SoC faculty member pilots a new residency program

January 27, 2011

Bleich and Scheutz serve up the cider with Elder Hall work-study students Samantha Stilson and Grace Chan, both WCAS freshmen.

When most of us left college, we said farewell to dorm life forever. But for Bill Bleich, senior lecturer in the Department of Radio/Television/Film in the School of Communication, the dorm is a place to call home once again.

Bleich and his wife, Pam Schuetz, a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Policy Research, moved into a new apartment in the Elder Residential Community this fall. Bleich was selected by a search committee assigned to find the best pilot faculty member for the new Faculty in Residence (FIR) program at Northwestern.

Being student-centered, flexible and able to bridge the academic world with the non-academic world were three criteria the committee looked for when selecting the live-in faculty member, said Mary Goldenberg, director of university residential life. And Bleich met all of these criteria with ease.

"He can do the formal classroom type of program but could also do cider and donuts," Goldenberg said, referring to the Elder Hall tradition of hosting a Sunday evening snack session for students.

The program was designed to support residential communities within the university, integrating faculty into students' non-academic circles for networking purposes.

"We work in collaboration with students and staff at Res Life to oversee and plan learning and social activities," Bleich said. "We work to bring faculty members into the community to engage students and build a sense of community."

Bleich works with the Elder Residential Community area coordinator Kim Scott to create and execute programming. So far Bleich and Scheutz have opened their doors to Elder residents for casual sports nights and took a group to see the Northwestern Theatre and Interpretation Center production of The Secret Garden, directed by Bleich's School of Communication colleague Rives Collins.

Another "FIR" on the Northwestern campus will be placed next year after the Elder pilot project has had a year to grow.

For Bleich and Schuetz, who not only enjoy their renovated two-bedroom apartment, but also the meals in dorms around campus, the project has already been a positive experience.

"Pam and I genuinely enjoy the Sunday night ciders," Bleich said. "We get incredible turnout, and the students are terrific, they really are."

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