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Your professor as next-door neighbor

Faculty in residence program provides guidance, family

By: Valerie Marks // Contributing News Writer

Issue date: 7/8/08 Section: News
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If you think spending hours in classrooms all day with your professors is long enough, think again. At the University of Miami, many University of Miami actually live in the same residential college as their professors - and love it.

Each residential college - Hecht, Stanford, Mahoney, Pearson and Eaton - is home to its very own resident faculty, comprised of one resident master and one or two associate masters, all of whom are UM professors. Their apartments, located on the first floor of the residential colleges, often become "living rooms" for their student-neighbors, where educational programs, movie nights and other events are held.

The husband-and-wife team of Ed Talavera and Dia Kontaxis, who are both professors in the School of Communication, live in Eaton Residential College with their two small children, Nefele and Orestes.

"The children love it; it's like having 400 aunts and uncles," Talavera said.

The resident faculty program aims to provide an educational component to living on campus, so that the transition from the classroom to the dormitory is a smooth one. While students' classes teach them academic subjects, the programs in the residential halls teach students about a range of topics. Programs are not only educational, however; they are also social. In the past, programming has included a discussion and concert by the dean of the Frost School of Music, a coffee house showcase of student talent, a dinner with President Donna E. Shalala, wine tastings and trips to museums and other areas around Miami.

In exchange for providing programs for the student residents, the faculty masters and their families live in the apartment rent-free, and also receive a meal plan.

The resident faculty program ensures that students living away from home for the first time will have the support they need. Learning to get along harmoniously with several hundred other students in the residential colleges is a large part of the learning experience in college.

"You have to learn how to deal and live with other people. That's what is most important," Talavera said.

Valerie Marks may be contacted at v.marks@umiami.edu
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