Being fully immersed in higher education is considered to be one of the primary advantages of students living on campus; the same can be true for tenure-track faculty who are focused on their progress toward tenure through research, teaching and service, just as students are focused on their progress toward graduating into their careers.
Living on campus provides tenure-track faculty with enhanced access to resources and colleagues, interacting with other faculty, administrators, students and staff members to stimulate intellectual conversations, collaboration and networking.
Additionally, faculty can be more accessible to their students, which can improve their teaching and advising. This can create a sense of commitment and dedication to the institution. Faculty who live on campus are more likely to feel invested in the success of the college or university, leading to a greater sense of loyalty and motivation to contribute to the institution’s mission.
Living on campus can allow faculty to be more involved in campus life. They can participate in campus events, attend student performances and engage in extracurricular activities. This can help them connect with students and understand their experiences outside the classroom. This knowledge can help professors be more effective in teaching and advising roles.
Living on campus can also give faculty with more time for research and service. Commuting can be time-consuming, especially for those living far from campus. By living on campus, faculty can minimize their commute time and energy, giving them more bandwidth to dedicate to their research and service obligations. This can also improve work-life balance for faculty since they can spend less time commuting, which can free up time for personal activities, exercise and relaxation. Additionally, living on campus can provide community and support, potentially helping reduce stress and burnout.
Colleges and universities nationwide have taken the initiative to appropriate on-campus housing for faculty and their families, often living rent-free among students to build community. This practice is gaining in popularity at larger universities aiming to create more personal, small-campus experiences for students and faculty.
Although the trend is not common, USA Today reports that about 200 colleges and universities across the United States have developed living-learning programs that include faculty-in-residence to engage students outside of the classroom and allow them to live on campus with others who have similar interests.
Although professors living in the same communities as their students may seem novel, it has been around for several centuries, with Oxford and Cambridge having faculty living with students when founded in the 16th century. Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, UCLA, University of Florida and George Washington University are som universities that house faculty and their families.
It goes without saying that a college education is about more than just what happens in the classroom. When students interact with faculty and see that they have families, hobbies and interests beyond the classroom environment, it helps scaffold the lesson of being a whole person. There’s a tendency for students to assume that successful faculty are often unidimensional (for example, a social work professor only does social work things) when, in fact, most successful faculty are quite multidimensional and enjoy a wonderful work-life balance. It’s one thing for a professor to say that they are multidimensional in the classroom, it’s another to show just how multidimensional they are by living among their students.
Faculty-in-residence programs can promote interaction between students and faculty outside of the traditional classroom setting, with faculty serving as role models, mentors, advisers and leaders in the residential community. Faculty and their families living and interacting with students daily can help enrich the campus living experience for everyone involved. This may be especially true for faculty with children, getting accustomed to the college and university environment years before high school graduation.
Just as living on campus can be beneficial for students, living on campus can also be helpful for professors. It can provide access to resources, increase research and service availability, improve campus life involvement, enhance work-life balance, and create a sense of commitment. These benefits can translate to enhanced research, teaching and service productivity, ultimately benefiting the institution.