When OSU residential director Doug Wilcox was a student at New Hampshire’s New England College, he knew almost all his professors, so much so that having dinner with them was a part of his day-to-day life. So when he learned about plans within the College of Health and Human Sciences – the fourth largest at OSU – to create its own residential hall, Wilcox was thrilled that HHS students would experience a similarly close-knit community.
Starting this term, Buxton-Hawley residential hall became a part of a new program called LinC Live, which was created by a team at HHS with the support of Cindy Empey, director of residential life, and Tammy Bray, dean of HHS. According to Bray, LinC Live (which stands for Learning in Communities) not only groups participating HHS students within one residential area, it provides a living/learning environment where students interact closely with each other and faculty members.
More than a 100 students from HHS – mostly first-year students – moved in on Sept. 21 to their new residential hall. There are 425 total students in Buxton-Hawley, making HHS students the largest group representing a single college.
“The housing department is moving towards this model,” Wilcox said. “The research out there supports that living/learning communities result in students more likely to have stronger grade point averages, better relationships with faculty and a higher retention rate.”
The model for how this can work is OSU’s Weatherford Hall, home of the College of Business’ Austin Entrepreneurship Program. There, students develop business ideas in incubator spaces, hear visiting lectures as part of the “Fireside Chats” series and interact with entrepreneurship faculty.
“In every exit study that is done, students say one of the most meaningful experiences they have in their college career is their interactions with their professors,” said Kathy Greaves, a senior instructor in HHS and the new faculty-in-residence with LinC Live. “When they are recognized outside the classroom by a faculty member or really engage with faculty, they don’t feel like they are this anonymous student in a big university anymore.”
Liz Gray, assistant dean for academic programs at HHS, said LinC Live is part of a much larger strategic plan at the college. LinC includes community outreach and classroom learning components as part of an integrated model that gives students an intimate, enriching experience at one of OSU’s fastest-growing colleges.
“We’re looking at exciting new ways of connecting with students,” Gray said.
“Everything we do in the College of Health and Human Sciences reflects the research and best practices on student engagement, and student engagement results in student success.”
Gray points to a full slate of activities taking place at Buxton-Hawley as an example of the new approach. Greaves said LinC Live will include several formal educational programs in the lounge at Buxton, as well as a new idea called Chew & Chat. At the Chew & Chats, faculty members will have dinner in the West Dining Hall, and students will be invited to join them in an informal discussion.
On move-in day, Greaves – along with 16 faculty and Bray – were on hand to greet students, meet parents and, in some cases, lug a box or two into a room. By the end of that first day, many residents already were on a first-name basis with a faculty member.
Whitney Lawrence, 19, is from Maryland and had never been to Oregon before she started at OSU this term. Lawrence is a first-year interior design student and said she was nervous about being so far away from her family and living in a new place. She said meeting so many people in her first week on campus made her more comfortable.
“This hall is focused, so I was interested in getting in (to Buxton-Hawley) to help me with my studies,” she said. “I’ve already met a lot of other design students in my program and I met professors like Kathy. Now I don’t feel as nervous because I have friends already. Now I’m excited to start school.”
~by Angela Yeager
LinC Live Programs:
- “Design on a Dime.” Wednesday, Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. Buxton Lounge. Carol Caughey will share inexpensive ways to liven up residential hall rooms.
- “Eat Well, Play Well, Be Well: Prevent the Freshman 15.” Wednesday, Oct. 15, 6 p.m. Marketplace West – Small Conference Room. Chew & Chat with Ingrid Skoog, Nutrition and Exercise Science.
- “Keeping Yourself Safe: Smoking, Drugs, and Other Risky Behaviors.” Wednesday, Oct. 29, 6 p.m. Marketplace West – Small Conference Room. Chew & Chat with Ray Tricker, Public Health.
- “College 101: Love, Sex and Healthy Relationships.” Wednesday, Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. Buxton Lounge. Informal seminar hosted by Kathy Greaves, Human Development and Family Sciences.