Faculty-in-residence project builds bridges between the classroom and residence life

Studies show that living on campus greatly enhances students’ educational experiences, resulting in higher GPAs and increased graduation rates. In 2012, Winston-Salem State University launched a faculty-in-residence program where professors live in apartments connected to the residence halls. These programs give students and faculty opportunities to interact informally. These relationships encourage students to engage with faculty across the university in novel and unique ways.

Dr. Jack S. Monell, Assistant Professor of Justice Studies, is a man who likes to take advantage of opportunities. He and his family have been residing in WSSU residence facilities for the past three years as part of the Faculty in Residence program. Monell, a native New Yorker who loves everything about New York from the food to sports, has grown fond of the south, particularly North Carolina.

Before moving into the world of academe full time, he worked in local, state, and federal positions in community corrections, juvenile justice and delinquency, family preservation and child welfare in Washington, DC, and internationally. While he enjoyed working for the government, he knew in his heart that he wanted to be part of a university, particularly an HBCU.

“I chose the field of justice studies because of my interest in working with at-risk adolescent populations,” Monell said, “I’ve been fortunate to see how criminal justice operates on several continents and use those experiences to provide our students global perspectives in the application of social justice and the overall criminal justice processes. I enjoy bridging theory with application as it relates to our field and students’ career interests post-graduation.”

But why would he, as a married man with children, engage in the Faculty-in-Residence (FIR) program at WSSU? Monell, who currently lives with his family in Gleason-Hairston Terrace, explains it this way, “I pride myself as being a student’s professor. When the FIR option was introduced, it was a perfect opportunity for me to further engage with students in their environment and bridge what I do in the classroom to the residential halls.”

Monell lives with wife Angela, an English honors middle school teacher, and sons Julian, 15, and Jaxon, 11.

“It has, and continues to be, an incredible experience not only for me, but now for my family who reside with me on campus. It has been over 20 years since I was an undergraduate living on a university campus, so I was a little out of practice, but quickly adapted to the daily happenings of a student resident. The experience further provides me with great insight into some of the issues students face and more importantly allows for them to have access to me in assisting them with various areas of concern or interest,” Monell said.

According Monell, the students’ perspective on his presence in their living space was, well, a little confusing, even surprising to some.

“Once the initial shock of it wore off and they began engaging with me more, they really enjoyed having me and my other FIR colleagues in the halls with them,” said Monell. Monell said now that the concept is understood, more students enjoy not only interacting with him but with his family as well.

“My wife and two sons enjoy being Rams and have embedded themselves into the culture of campus living,” said Monell. “Quite often, they participate in our hall programming and contribute to the many discussions we have with students. Having my family with me provides our students with support and some sense of home, which I know many of them enjoy.”

Foster said during times when he was homesick or became depressed about “issues in life that do come up, Monell was there.” Foster plans to attend graduate school and pursue a degree in higher education with a career goal of aiding student athlete development. Monell added that the experience from cooking meals, to working out in Reaves Center, or taking students on cultural excursions out of state, or just being available to them, particularly when there is a crisis, is equally as important.

“Quite honestly, I see this as an incredible privilege and I am humbled to work with our students in this capacity,” concludes Monell. “In the end, it’s about providing them with the best opportunities to be successful at WSSU.”

Jack S. Monell, Ph.D., MSW is the author of “Delinquency, Pop Culture and Generation Why”, a compilation of personal and professional accounts, interviews, and music industry perspectives that aims to address the issues faced by Generation Y, also known as Millennials.

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