Faculty-In-Residence position offers community, growth for professors

Dr. Beth Barr lives with her husband Jeb, her daughter Elena and her son Stephen in Dawson. Photo courtesy of Dr. Beth Barr

By Caroline Yablon | Reporter

Although downsizing from a house to living in a residence hall with college kids may not seem like a preferable choice, some Baylor professors look at the new lifestyle as beneficial for both the students and their families.

According to the professors who are in the Faculty-In-Residence program, it is a highly sought out opportunity with an ongoing waiting list. Dr. Robert Creech, professor of Christian ministries in Truett and Director of Pastoral Ministries, said he applied three times before he and his wife were accepted.

The program consists of 15 Baylor professors who reside with their families in one of the many residential communities across campus. Their duty is to live among students and to invest in their lives. They do this by inviting students into their homes for dinner, planning interactive events and collaborating with Campus Living and Learning Center. Essentially, the program is to better transition students into college by providing support that will guide them through their first year.

“It’s a place for students to get in touch with people that care about them and their successes that can support them in that,” Creech said.

Creech and his wife Melinda have lived in University House residence hall for 6 years now. He said living on campus enriches their life here at Baylor through investing in college students. Since he teaches seminary, he said he does not get the opportunity to interact with many undergraduate students, so living on campus fills that missing gap.

“It’s a way to be more invested in undergraduate life,” Creech said. “We saw it as an opportunity to have a different professorial experience here by sharing life in a community a little more.”

Not only does the program give professors opportunities to invest deeper into students’ lives, but it allows professors to know their students in a more direct way.

“It makes you a better professor when you spend time with students because you learn more about what’s important to them,” said Dr. Beth Barr, associate professor and graduate director of history.

This is Barr’s first year living in Dawson, along with her husband Jeb and their two children: Stephen, who is 13, and Elena, who is 8. She has been a faculty member for 16 years and said she and her husband have been interested in the program for some time now, but couldn’t do the program with her husband working in youth ministry in Woodway. However, his new job as pastor of First Baptist Church of Elm Mott is 10 minutes from campus and has created a way for them to accept the position.

“We couldn’t do it in youth ministry because we needed our house too much, but now we don’t need our house too much, so it was perfect timing,” Barr said.

Barr also said that living on campus and no longer having to commute from Woodway has allowed Barr and her family to be more present on campus by attending more events and football games, as well as being in close proximity to her children’s school.

“Walking out at night and going to events — it’s a lot easier,” Barr said.

Brian Elliot, a senior lecturer of film and media, resides in Heritage house and is a part of the Fine Arts LLC with his wife and son Tim. He said the program enables him to teach in a more intensified way.

He already spends a lot of time interacting with his students outside of the classroom. For instance, in the summers he and his students are shooting feature films for five weeks and 12 hours a day. But through the Fine Arts LLC, he has been able to take it a step further and take his students on interactive trips like the Austin Film Festival, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, musicals and many more outings. He and several colleagues have even taken his students to Chicago, where students were able see Hamilton and explore the sets of shows including “Chicago PD”, “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire”. Elliot and his colleagues also took students to Los Angeles, where he was able to introduce his students to Baylor alumni who work in all aspects of the film business.

“As an LLC, it expands from just conceptually talking about things or practicing them in a classroom, but getting students outside and experiencing the people that are doing this and have attained some of the things that they are hoping to attain,” Elliot said.

Although Elliot believes the program has been an outlet for his students to learn and grow in their major, it has also been an outlet for him to give back.

“I know that our life is not just about being as comfortable as we can become, that’s not what people will remember, but it will be what we do to give away — so this is one way to do that”.