By this time, you may have thought about how stressful your move to college might be. If you’re coming from out of town, the move is a big one – you pack your clothes, say bye to your friends and catch that flight that kicks off your collegiate career. If you’re a commuter, adjusting to the college lifestyle will also be a huge change.
However, at the University of Miami, there is a special group of faculty members who try to ease the transition. Each residential college at Miami has a faculty master whose job is to be a recognizable and friendly face representative of the faculty for students to get to know.
“Faculty masters offer a home away from home for the freshmen that come to the University of Miami,” said Christina Farmer, a resident assistant at Hecht Residential College. “Their homes are open to students anytime for programs, movie nights and baking. The faculty masters also become mentors to the students living in their buildings as they serve as a role model to all.”
Resident assistants are students selected to supervise floors at the residential colleges, who also organize events for the students living on their floor. They interact closely with the faculty masters to collaborate on programming for residents that enhances their time in the dorms.
Programs may include anything from themed dinners to movies.
“The faculty masters also give RAs the opportunity to use their apartments for programs just for the RA’s floor. The faculty masters serve as friends and mentors to the RAs,” Farmer said. “We get to know them on a personal level, and in turn we are able to bridge connections between our residents and the faculty masters.”
Dr. Michelle Maldonado will serve as the Hecht Residential College Faculty Master for the upcoming year.
“The role of the faculty master is to really create a bridge between students’ classrooms experiences and the rest of their university life,” she said. “We really try to add that intellectual tone to the building, and we try to connect to students in ways that they are not able to connect to the rest of the faculty.”
Maldonado, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, embraces her new job.
“It’s an extremely rewarding experience,” she said “When people ask me how I enjoy my job, I say I enjoy it thoroughly, and it’s why I became a professor. We’re more accessible than a normal advisor.”
Students also appreciate the presence of faculty masters as a support group close by.
“The faculty masters are great. When I was living in Pearson [Residential College], they were always really helpful,” said Evan Gallo, who had to adjust to life in sunny Miami after coming from his hometown of Evanston, N.Y. “I got to know mine during move-in, and students should really take advantage of what they have to offer. They’re one of the most friendly faces of the faculty you’ll get to meet.”