Families in Residence

For most of us, the idea of raising a family in a residence hall on a college campus sounds, to put it mildly, challenging. But for many of Butler’s Faculty In Residence (known as FIRs), this challenge is well worth it. Celebrating nearly three decades, the FIR program places faculty members in residence halls with “learning communities” of approximately 80-120 students. Officially, FIRs host a minimum of two activities a month for their learning communities, to introduce students to campus and the city of Indianapolis. Activities might be shared meals, game nights, volunteer work, or attending lectures or sports events with students.

Unofficially and by choice, FIRs do much more. They lead lots of informal conversations in their living quarters, ranging from politics and entertainment to picking careers and Final Four teams. FIRs dispense cookies and encouragement to students cramming for exams, model the fun and challenge of family life, and offer a concerned adult ear to the homesick, the lovelorn, the questioning—even to parents emotionally overwhelmed at leaving their child on campus.

While not all FIRs have children in residence, many do. Sharing a family home with approximately 100 undergrads under your roof may seem daunting, but these communities become extensions of the FIR’s family. The unique living quarters provide extraordinarily unique opportunities for children of FIRs to see college life up close and for college students to see family life.

We asked Four Faculty in Residence to speak about what it’s like to raise children in this unique arrangement.

 


Meet the Families in Residence

Name: Catherine Pangan
Position at University: Associate Professor, College of Education
Names of Family members who live in residence: Roland, Hudson (13), Violet (7)
Residence Hall (current and past): Fairview, Resco, Schwitzer

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
They are so fortunate to be around an enormous amount of role models doing extraordinary things every day. On a daily basis, they see students studying, working, enjoying friendships, struggling and succeeding.  They get to see what it is like for college students to grow, as they grow themselves! We also feel like we are in a mini-neighborhood within Butler. Ms. Janine Frainier and the bookstore staff, BUPD, and of course, Miss Denise, and the Starbucks staff have been extraordinarily supportive and kind throughout the entire experience. They feel like family as well.

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
You age, but your neighbors don't. It is kind of like the fountain of youth!

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope they feel connected to a community the same way they feel living at Butler.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
I've told this story so many times, but when Hudson was four years old and learning to ride his bike, he was trying to make it down the whole length of Hampton. As he rode, he had students shouting "Go Hudson!" from sorority and fraternity windows - students were clapping for him on the street as he rode by, and then they let out a huge cheer for him when he made it to the end. I will never forget his smile when he made it, or the Butler students that helped him get to the end! If that doesn't exemplify the Butler Way, I'm not sure what does!

What's your commute like in the morning?
Short!

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Name: John Esteb
Position at University: Chemistry Professor
Names of Family members who live in residence: 4 total (including me)
Residence Hall: Resco C-Wing

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
The kids learn how to interact with adults and also are exposed to so many wonderful cultural events, speakers, shows, etc. that almost no other kid gets to experience on a regular basis

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
There is constantly a lot of energy around and there is ALWAYS something going on!  It is a unique experience that we get to interact with them both inside and outside the classroom and help not only with their academic development but get to know them as the fun and talented people they are in their day to day life as well.

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope that they see the value of the college experience (with everything that it entails) and also learn that everyone has strengths that they can showcase in their own unique ways when put into an environment that provides the right opportunities and fosters the development of skills and talents.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
We have had many! Ranging from my son jumping around and singing along with students at a Butlerpalooza concert, to cheering on the Colts and my kids going crazy in the stands at the game with students that were die-hard Colts fans, to the kids competing with the students to see who would be willing to eat the wildest sushi order, to just hanging out with the students over cheesecake, bbq, cookies, donuts, etc. at the apartment!

What's your commute like in the morning?
Normally great (since I just walk in)! Haha!

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Name: Ryan Flessner
Position at University: Associate Professor of Teacher Education (COE)
Names of Family members who live in residence: Courtney (wife), Abel (11), Adelyn (10)
Residence Hall (current and past): Fairview House (2016-present), Ross Hall (2013-2016)

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
Our kids are surrounded by young adults who are working toward their goals on a daily basis while also enjoying each other's company and the beautiful campus on which we live. The kids have the opportunity to see college students find their way, develop friendships, and contribute to our community. Abel and Adelyn learned to ride their bikes on the mall, and they can always find a pick-up game of kickball with ever-ready college students. Who wouldn't want to grow up on this campus?!

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
It's inspiring to see students finding their way in the world, discovering their passions, and contributing to the community. I'm a better professor because I see more than just the academic side of college life. In addition to their commitments to their studies, I see the students' commitments to campus and community organizations, their commitments to their network of friends and mentors, and their commitments to their future careers.

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope my kids understand the privileges they have in life and the ways in which their experiences are shaping their futures. I hope they use their privilege to benefit others as they make their way in the world.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
There are too many magical moments to count. We've been to the wedding of one of our RAs, we've been references for residents as they seek employment, and we've even helped a student learn to wrap holiday gifts! My favorite memory, however, is probably from a faculty dinner we hosted on our patio last fall. After the event with her professors that evening, one of our residents said, "This is why I came to Butler - so I could interact with the faculty and we could get to know each other as people." Making that moment possible for her was incredibly rewarding, and her gratitude was worth all of the effort we put into this role.

What's your commute like in the morning?
I love the fact that I can walk my kids to the bus and then walk across campus to my office. That 15-minute stroll is a great way to organize my thoughts as I transition into my teaching or my research.

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Name: Erin Garriott
Position at University: Instructor in Special Education, College of Education
Names of Family members who live in residence: Scott Garriott (husband), Ella (15), Mae (9) and Weston (5)
Residence Hall (current and past): ResCo B-wing currently, Schweitzer for 2 years

What are the benefits of raising a family in this unique environment?
To have my kids surrounded by goal-centered, focused, kind, thoughtful BU students is priceless. We also think the access to sports, the arts, campus projects, and events are real benefits.

What's it like to live in a neighborhood of only college-age students?
It’s so much fun! There’s always something going on or conversations to join in on. We’ve been so lucky to live by wonderfully caring and kind students. We realize how much we rely on their energy to get through our days. When students aren’t here, we totally miss them!

As your children grow and become adults, what do you hope they will take from this experience?
I hope they will remember the time we got to spend together in our cozy living space. I hope they take with them the importance of working hard to reach a goal. We hardly ever go by a study lounge where there isn’t at least one student in there studying. Mostly, I really hope they take the amazing feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves. Butler is a really special place to be. I know my kids “know” that because of the conversations we’ve had about the people here and the experiences we’ve gotten to have with our residents.

Is there a story that you think exemplifies your family in residence experience?
There are sooooo many, from Ms. Denise getting Scott and I an anniversary cake to students leaving encouraging notes to our kids outside our door. The one that always sticks out though came from my husband Scott. As long as I’ve known him, I’ve always been an educator. He had often made comments about how I always had my students on my mind and he didn’t seem to understand how that happened. Fast forward 15 years...our first year as a FIR family was coming to an end. I mentioned one evening during dinner that classes were finishing up and students would be moving out soon. Scott said in a panic, “Do you think we’ll ever see Emma again?” And all evening, he would randomly ask things like, “I wonder if Allison got her summer job?” and “Do you think Helen will stop by to say good-bye?” My favorite one was, “I hope Rex (Hailey’s dad) knows he can stop by and see us anytime.” After just one year, he had experienced the relationships you build with young people and how it changes your life. He has a better sense of what it means to care deeply about a group of students; it was a lesson I could never teach but am so glad I got to see click.

What's your commute like in the morning?
Surprisingly, I drive to my office. I take my kids to their bus stop at 46th and Cornelius and then hustle to South Campus for class.