The Faculty Fellows program pairs a group of faculty members with each first-year residence hall to increase engagement with students outside of the classroom.
When I applied to be part of the pilot program, I thought mostly of how the presence of Faculty Fellows would benefit students on the South Campus and possibly improve the social and intellectual climate at Wake Forest.
I don’t recall giving any thought then to how participation in the program would benefit me. All of that started to change on move-in day and has continued these first few weeks of the semester; it is likely I will get as much (if not more) from this interaction with students than they will.
Typically, I stay as far away from our beloved Reynolda Campus as I possibly can on the day first-year students, with the help of families and friends, make the big move. In avoiding the traffic and confusion all these years, I had forgotten how palpable the excitement of the day could be.
Sitting in the lobby of Luter and greeting parents and students reminded me how intoxicating the heightened emotions of the transition are, and about mid-morning I heard a woman call out upon entering the front door, “Mary? It’s me, Jennifer. Jennifer Weatherspoon Creech.”
Jennifer (’83) and I both lived in Luter Hall during our time as undergraduates at Wake Forest, back when residence halls were called dorms and Luter was New Dorm. Now her son, Alex, is a first-year student in Luter, a hall with a hog on its newly designed crest to serve as our mascot.
As we catch up, Jennifer learns that Luter Faculty Fellows want to host a Pig Pickin’ because it will be fun and, well, if you’re known as the hogs, it’s important to own that, and I learn that she and her husband, Ryan, have a cooker they take to Wake Forest home football games and a lot of experience roasting the whole hog.
Those connections past and present make good stories, and it is precisely this sort of community that Faculty Fellows want to foster.
These first few weeks of the semester, my Associate Fellows, Ana Wahl and Steve Gunkel, and I have begun to get to know our students and the Luter Residence Life and Housing staff over casual “Lounge Hours” (as opposed to office hours), a Labor Day Cookout, watching “Breaking Bad” in the media room, going to concerts and screenings, handing out snacks in the lounge and lobby, inviting them to campus lectures and academic events, and casual conversation.
Before returning to Luter Hall, I had forgotten how exciting, almost overwhelming with possibility and a bit of uncertainty, those first few weeks can be for new students. Now all I have to do is watch and listen carefully to be reminded that while some things have changed, a great deal remains the same at Wake Forest as it was when I arrived on campus as a student in the fall of ’79.
It is my hope for the students in Luter Hall that they will find their respective places at Wake Forest — enrolling in majors and minors that engage and broaden their minds and participating in clubs and activities that are enriching and fun — and that they make lifetime connections with friends, professors, and staff members who will journey with them for four years here and in their lives beyond college.
And, on occasion, let’s see the Faculty Fellows and the students cut loose and go whole hog together (with suitable vegetarian options provided, of course).
In addition to serving as Faculty Fellow for Luter Hall, Mary M. Dalton is Professor of Communication / Film Studies / and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.