Tuesday, November 23, 2010

24/7 Proffie.

The professor is in, 24/7
Life in a UH dorm means full immersion in campus life

In retrospect, Raul Ramos says his first eight years at the University of Houston were spent in "blissful ignorance."

"I didn't know how parking works, how the dining halls work, how financial aid works," said the associate professor of history. "Now I do."

Ramos, 43, is fully immersed in campus life, living in a dorm for the first time in more than two decades, along with his wife, Elizabeth Chiao, and their sons, Noe and Joaquin Ramos Chiao.

Even their dogs are there.

"It's not like we really need more on our plate right now," said Chiao, an infectious disease doctor at Baylor College of Medicine. "But it's a neat opportunity."


  1. The grammar in that caption paragraph (the first paragraph here) is atrocious.

    When I went to undergrad, we had faculty who lived on campus. I also went to Hippy Quaker Prep School, and faculty lived on campus there. I actually liked it in both instances, because it was nice to see people other than college students around. (I loathed them even then, it seems...or maybe it was self-loathing. That's a distinct possibility.)

    When I taught at snooty private college, I learned about the residential life "opportunities," and I have to say that the whole thing sounded like an great deal in terms of benefits. Maybe I would have hated it in practice, but it struck me that doing it for a year would let me make a big dent in my student loan repayments.

    It's unclear what Mr Ramos's responsibilities are as a dorm "parent" (?). I seem to remember that our dorm "parents" were available in an emergency, had social activities twice a semester or so, and had "office hours" maybe once a week for a couple of hours. Frankly...yeah. BIG dent in student loans.

  2. @BlackDog: I didn't notice the terrible proofing in that caption paragraph at the newspaper site, but I did pull it after you correctly noted its condition. Thanks for the head's up. Readers can still see it if they click through to the full article.

  3. I wish I could do this. The new dorm on campus is WAY nicer than my house.

  4. We, too, had faculty on-campus, both at my (private, mostly boarding) high school and my (Ivy League) undergraduate institution. I think it was a better deal for the college professors, who I'm pretty sure got full salary in addition to free housing in exchange for relatively little effort (a bit of entertaining students and a good deal of eating in the dining hall, which might or might not be construed as a perk) than for the high school teachers, whose salaries were low enough and duties heavy enough to make the advantages of the arrangement less clear. For high school teachers at the beginning of their careers, it was basically a way to avoid paying more than they could afford for a room in a group house that they'd rarely see anyway because they were too busy running study halls and overseeing extracurricular activities in addition to their teaching duties. Some slightly older teachers made out a bit better, but only a very few, most of them from an earlier generation (and with some family money), actually owned real estate -- usually a summer/country house -- elsewhere. The rest were living relatively comfortably for the time, but missing out on a major source of wealth creation and security for retirement (and, for that reason, were more limited than they might otherwise have been in their ability to leave). All in all, there was a certain "owe my soul to the company store" flavor to the arrangement, albeit with a genteel veneer.

    I fear that similar arrangements on college campuses may move in the same direction: not a real choice that confers significant financial benefits in return for a reasonable increase in duties, but a way of getting more work out of faculty without paying them a wage sufficient to live in the community at large, or to build some level of financial security independent of their jobs.


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