MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XVIII No. 3
January / February 2006
Life Sciences at MIT:
A History and Perspective
Reflecting on the Report of the
Task Force on Medical Care
Promotion and Tenure for
Interdisciplinary Junior Faculty
Reviewing the Committee on
Graduate School Programs
The Challenge and Rewards of Faculty-Student Interactions in the Residence Halls
Troubling whistle-blower article
Regarding the Report of the Task Force on Medical Care for the MIT Community
Valentine: Faith; Valentine: Invention
Mildred Dresselhaus
OpenCourseWare at Home
MIT Retirement Plans: A Brief Summary
MIT Rated 7th in Latest U.S. News Ranking
% of MIT Constituencies Using OCW
OCW Impact on the MIT Community
Printable Version

The Challenge and Rewards of Faculty-Student Interactions in the Residence Halls

Terry Orlando

Challenge I: Our students want to share experiences with us outside of the classroom and the lab.

Challenge II: How do I find the time to schedule this into my already over-full schedule?

These two challenges summarize our dilemma: we would like to spend time outside the classroom with our students, but finding the time can be difficult. The trick is to start with a small time commitment of once a year and do something you enjoy with a group of students. If each faculty attended one event a year with a student group, the amount of faculty-student interaction outside of the classroom would increase exponentially.

One of the best ways to have a more personal encounter is to attend a dinner in one of the many MIT dormitories, fraternities, sororities, or living groups.

Students – undergraduate and graduate – enjoy chatting informally with professors. It is their chance to see you as a person, in addition to your role as a teacher or researcher. Don’t worry about the conversation topic; our students are naturally inquisitive, engaging, and most appreciative of the chance to talk.

Another way to be involved with a group of students in a residence hall is to become a House Fellow. Here you receive a budget to support an activity, such as going to a concert or a ball game, apple-picking or a movie. The size of the group is usually from 10 to 20 students, and the students help organize the event.

I recognize that the “down time” for a relaxing dinner or other event is nights and weekends; the same time that is often family time. However, bringing your family to an event can add an extra dimension – after all, life on campus often restricts students to their own age group, so having the family there can be fun for all. For example, stopping by a Sunday brunch with your family on your way to an event in Boston is a convenient way to combine both activities.

If you would like to explore being invited to a dinner, a brunch, or an event at a residence hall, contact me or one of the Housemasters directly (a list of the housemasters can be found at A more extensive list of ideas for interacting with students can be found at Some of these other activities will be highlighted in future Newsletter articles.

Challenge III: Taking the first step . . .

Try it: The company and the experience will be most rewarding.

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