First Faculty Apartment at Rollins Fosters Connections

March 05, 2008

Mike GunterAs part of Rollins' Living Learning Community program, Associate Professor of Political Science Michael Gunter and his family lived for two semesters in the College’s first-ever faculty apartment. Gunter resided in the apartment, located on the first floor of Ward Hall, with his wife and two young children (ages five and two).

Ward Hall is one of Rollins' many Living Learning Communities, in which students live with and take classes with like-minded peers, which increases connection among students.

The philosophy behind bringing a faculty member to live on campus with his or her family is to better connect what happens in the classroom with outside life. “The idea of a faculty in residence is really neat, and places all over the country are experimenting with it,” Gunter said. “Vanderbilt has been planning a similar program for eight years and will open a faculty apartment next fall.”

Gunter teaches courses in international relations and environmental politics, while serving as director of the International Relations Program and advisor for the Washington Semester Program. He also enjoys sports, particularly playing basketball and tennis.

As many as two programs a week are put on in Ward Hall to provide students with a variety of offerings that are both social and educational. “We want to bring a connection back to the classroom,” Gunter said. “We are trying to bridge the gap and model life-long learning for our students so they can see its importance and significance in life. They are able to see and learn from colleagues who come to these programs and continually learn and discuss areas of interest.”

Programs have included a Labor Day picnic, film viewings and discussions, Global Peace Film Festival events, an ice cream social in Gunter’s apartment and even a final exam strategies session. Events currently in the works include hosting an Easter egg hunt for local children, Ward Hall’s own “Iron Chef” competition and taking a field trip to the Annie Russell Theatre to see Murder We Wrote: The Improvised Whodunit.

“This is a period of transition for us,” Gunter said. “We are trying to find programs that emphasize the social aspect of college life. We are also exploring the kinds of programs our students are interested in.” Events are open to the entire college community.

Last month, Brushing & the Black Student Union hosted a Poetry Slam contest in Ward Hall. Students enjoyed an assortment of appetizers and desserts with generous gift certificate awards to the top three finishers. The event was open to the public and students, faculty and staff were encouraged to participate and share their own unique works. “The Black Student Union has hosted a poetry slam before and we really liked the design of the program,” Gunter said. “We wanted to bring together different constituencies in a fun but intellectual program. The events going on in the living-learning communities are starting to put more ownership on the students to bring in and develop programs that interest them.”

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