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More faculty living in campus housing

Faculty-in-residence program expands as Northwestern develops residential neighborhoods

  • Live-in faculty members to oversee linked buildings for the first time
  • Faculty required to host events for students in their residential neighborhoods
  • Program aims to unite students’ social and academic worlds

EVANSTON - This fall the University will double the size of the Faculty-in-Residence program with the addition of two new faculty members and apartments.

In a program designed to blur the line between students’ academic and social lives on campus, four faculty members, some with families, will live among the undergraduates in specially designed apartments located inside residential buildings.

“Sometimes people have an artificial divide between those two worlds,” Residential Academic Initiatives Director Bradley Zakarin said. “For some students, this may be the first opportunity to connect with a faculty member outside a lecture hall. That changes the dynamic in positive ways.”

For the first time this fall, the two new live-in faculty members will oversee more than one residential building. Tali Figueroa, associate professor of physics and astronomy in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will live in Goodrich House and oversee a residential neighborhood that includes Goodrich House, Bobb Hall and McCulloch Hall. Melissa Foster, senior lecturer in the School of Communication, will oversee Shepard Hall and 1838 Chicago. Her faculty apartment is located in Shepard Hall.

Northwestern opened its first Faculty-in-Residence apartments in Elder Hall and Allison Hall in 2010 and 2011. (For bios of all live-in faculty members, click here.)

The Faculty-in-Residence program is part of a University-wide effort to create cohesive residential neighborhoods. As part of the Housing Master Plan, the University plans to eventually incorporate all undergraduate housing into residential neighborhoods to develop unique communities under the supervision of live-in faculty members and Residential Life staff.

“These neighborhoods bring students from multiple academic disciplines together for both academic and social purposes,” Zakarin said. “It helps build a diverse and tight-knit community within the larger Northwestern campus community.”

The live-in faculty members facilitate both social and academic events for students in their residential neighborhoods. They, for example, host small dinners or brunches inside the faculty apartments or arrange for larger group entertainment in the residential neighborhood common areas.

Zakarin said such an environment is critical for a well-rounded education. Students, he said, are emboldened to express opinions that they might not feel comfortable sharing in a more structured classroom environment.

“Students can learn skills that are critical for job interviews, medical school interviews and fellowship interviews in these safe residential environments,” Zakarin said. “If students can practice such skills with faculty who are more accessible to them, they can begin to overcome barriers to putting themselves out there and refine their communications skills and thought processes.”

Starting in 2017, Northwestern will implement a two-year on-campus housing requirement for students as part of the Housing Master Plan to improve the undergraduate experience on campus. Northwestern has also committed $500 million to housing construction and renovation. Eventually, each residential neighborhood will include common areas where students can cook, exercise, relax and study.

The Faculty-in-Residence apartments feature an open floor plan with a full kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and they come fully furnished. Zakarin said faculty can host more than 60 guests inside the apartments. Faculty members and their families also receive University meal plans, so they can eat in the dining halls with students. Faculty-in-residence receive a stipend in exchange for living on campus and hosting student events.


Allison Hall: Renee Engeln

Engeln is a professor of instruction in the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. This fall will mark the start of her sixth year at Allison Hall.

Elder Hall: Jacob Smith

Smith is an associate professor in the department of radio/television/film in the School of Communication. He lives in the apartment with his son and his wife, Freda Love Smith, a lecturer and academic advisor in the School of Communication.

Goodrich House, Bobb Hall and McCulloch Hall: Tali Figueroa

Figueroa is an associate professor of physics and astronomy in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He will live in the apartment with his 8-year-old son and his wife, Barbara Algarin, a lawyer and visiting scholar for Weinberg.

Shepard Hall and 1838 Chicago: Melissa Foster

Foster is head of musical theatre vocal studies in the School of Communication. She will live in the apartment with her 4-year-old daughter and her husband, Matt Boresi, an opera librettist and faculty member at Carthage College.

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