“I think interacting with the student population is a lot of fun,” says Assistant Professor of Political Science Michael Dichio. Good thing, because Dichio will be interacting with FLC students even more frequently as the latest Faculty in Residence.
“I’m excited to be part of the campus community in a more integral way,” Dichio says.
As the new Faculty in Residence starting Fall 2016, Dichio will make his full-time home in Animas Hall for at least the next two years. He will live in his own apartment within the hall, where he will serve essentially as a full-time resource for the nearly 150 students living in Animas.
The Faculty in Residence program draws the student-teacher relationship out of the classroom and into the living environment. Resident faculty bring an educational focus into the residence halls through multiple intellectual, social, and artistic experiences each month, as well as ten “open-door hours” each week. It also gives both students and professor a chance to get to know and learn about each other on a personal level.
How Dichio designs his service is largely up to him. Even though he has yet to move into his new digs, he already has some ideas cooking.
“I come from a big Italian family on both sides, and on Sundays we used to have a big late lunch,” Dichio says. “And it was fun, making the pasta from scratch. So one idea I have is, maybe once a month, we could get in the residence hall’s big kitchen and do some cooking.”
“I also love taking in the natural beauty here,” he adds, “so I’d love to do hiking and things like that. I’d love to learn more about the Durango area with students.”
Dichio is FLC’s third Faculty in Residence since Animas Hall opened in 2009, and he hopes to build on the successes of his predecessors. “I’d be more than happy to carry on events and traditions that students have loved for the last seven years,” he says. “For instance, Sushi Night is apparently an absolute hit with students. Food seems to entice interactions.”
As a teacher, Dichio finds that the enrichment is a two-way street. He is thrilled to carry that enrichment into the residence hall. “It’s fulfilling to work with students who are still shaping themselves in a lot of ways and looking to you for some guidance in that regard,” he says. “It’s satisfying to help somebody grapple with questions about ‘Where am I going? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be?’”
Of course, students must address these larger questions in the classroom, as well. Dichio is attracted to the Faculty in Residence role for the same reasons that he is drawn to the classroom – the joys of interacting with students. But the Faculty in Residence program allows him to engage students on different levels. “It’s a jovial, fun atmosphere,” Dichio says.
And in every student interaction, both social and academic, Dichio maintains that he is driven by a single primary goal.
“I want to get to know students on a more human level,” he says. “I just want to be me.”