Bridging Academia - College of Engineering's Paige Davis First in Honors Faculty-in-Residence Program
September 12, 2013
LSU Department of Construction Management instructor Paige Davis is the first in a new program instituted by the Department of Residential Life.
The Faculty-in-Residence program, which began August 1st, allows for a faculty member to move into the newly constructed faculty apartment, located in the Laville Honors House. Applying for the position required a letter of intent and, among other qualifications, a letter of support from a student.
“I think Residential Life was looking for somebody that was passionate about interacting and engaging with the students,” said Davis. “When I read about this position as faculty in residence, I could see myself doing it, and I could see my family moving in and being a part of the LSU community. I was so excited when I was offered the position, and am really looking forward to engaging the students in a whole new way.”
Honors College Dean Nancy Clark voiced her support for the program, highlighting the importance of student-faculty interaction.
“The Faculty in Residence program will give our students the opportunity to interact closely with an LSU professor on a daily basis,” said Clark. “Since we have so many Engineering students in the Honors College, we are especially excited to have a faculty member from the College of Engineering – Paige Davis – as the first Faculty-in-Residence at the Honors House. She will make a great addition to the Honors College ‘family.’”
Davis has been at LSU for over twenty years, and has held her position in the College of Engineering as an instructor since the beginning. In addition to her teaching experience, Davis also has worked with the college on retention plans for Engineering students through STEP (STEM Talent Expansion Program). Davis also began working with the Study Abroad program in 2010, where she facilitated the Encountering Engineering in Europe program, allowing Engineering students to study abroad in Europe as a group.
This is not the first time Davis has had the opportunity to interact with students and integrate into the Residential environment. Working with the Study Abroad program, according to Davis, has helped prepare her for living in a student-run atmosphere.
“I think study abroad prepared me for this because study abroad is very much a living learning community where we're on-site with the students,” said Davis. “We're not only teaching them the academic content, we're also working on other endeavors such as helping them understand the culture and the people, and how to communicate with them.”
According to Davis, in many ways, the Faculty-in-Residence program is similar to study abroad.
“I'll be eating with the students and living near the students and being able to interact with the students on a whole new level,” said Davis. “It just won't be me standing in front of a classroom teaching engineering. I'm hoping to work with them about being successful at LSU, and being involved in campus-wide events — just really helping them get engaged and involved.”
One of the most important parts of the study abroad experience that transfers to the Faculty-in-Residence program is allowing the academic and experiential to mesh. For Davis, this merging occurs when she takes Engineering students to automotive firms, allowing them to see firsthand the technology they’re studying on a day-to-day basis.
“I love it when [on study abroad] the students realize that everything that they're learning in class does have a real application,” said Davis. “It's just a different way of learning. It takes everything that they're doing in the classroom and it gives it so much more meaning, so I think they come back more engaged in their regular classes.”
Similar to the study abroad experience, the Faculty-in-Residence program creates an opportunity to break down barriers between students and the LSU community. Davis notes that the large size of LSU—in student body, faculty numbers, and campus—can sometimes make communication difficult. With the new Faculty-in-Residence program, Davis homes to make connections between students and faculty a reality.
“As our classes get larger at LSU, as faculty, we could possibly get disconnected. There could be this big divide between the person up at the front of the classroom, and the students that are sitting in the desk.” said Davis. “We've got so many resources and you can get lost in the middle of all that. Hopefully we can begin to help students use the resources that are available, learn about the different resources so that they can take advantage of it.”
Above all, Davis hopes to show students a different side of their educational experience.
“The Faculty-in-Residence is the person that's bridging the academic side. The main thing we want them to realize is that while they're on campus, you learn in the classroom, but you learn outside of the classroom too,” said Davis. “Both those spheres need to be blended, and there needs to be a balance.”
Among her plans as Faculty-in-Residence, Davis hopes to get more faculty involved with the students, as well as to focus on generating a sense of community for out-of-state and international students.
Story by Jacqueline DeRobertis, LSU Honors College. For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831