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Business professor joins dorm life

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Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013 12:00 am

As of this semester, a professor has taken up residence alongside students in the new fourth building of the Honors Living-Learning Community.

After teaching entrepreneurship and business courses at A-State since 2007, Erick Chang, of Guatemala, has recently accepted the university's first Faculty in Residence position, which puts him right into the midst of student life.

The position comes with benefits that include a meal-plan, stipend and a furnished 500 square foot apartment complete with private bathroom, living room and kitchen.

Chang said he is thrilled to have been chosen from the large pool of applicants to take on this new challenge.

"I'm coming for the full deal - three or four years," Chang said. "I just pitched my idea to Rebecca Oliver and laid out my plan for teaching my courses. It's very exciting."

Chang will be taking a unique approach to his family business classes next semester. A face-to-face honors section and a regular online section will be made available through A-State. A third section will be offered online through Universidad Francisco Marroqu?n, a private university in Guatemala.

"They're going to be doing a project that will combine honors students, online students, and Guatemalan students working together on the same team with the same professor," Chang said.

In business it is essential to be able to collaborate with various groups and cooperate with people around the world.

"I'm trying to give them the skills for what is happening today. Everything is virtual these days, so everyone has to learn to work together."

Chang's objective is to help students with many aspects of academic life.

"I'm just a regular professor and I'm available whenever they need me," he said.

Many universities across the country and the world have implemented this model in residential living environments with favorable results.

Rebecca Oliver, director of the Honors College, is familiar with the experience of living alongside a professor.

"As an undergraduate at Truman State University, I had a faculty in residence that lived and worked in my residence hall. This person was a great resource and adviser to students," Oliver said.

Chang's enthusiasm for working with students sets him apart from the other applicants, said Oliver.

"Dr. Chang is very passionate about working with students, not just business majors, but those from all majors with a diverse set of skills and discipline specific knowledge," she said.

Oliver anticipates positive results to come from this new arrangement.

"The opportunity for a faculty member to live and work among undergraduate Honors students is mutually beneficial," she said. "Right now I think having Dr. Chang living in the HLLC is a bit of a novelty to students and they are not quite sure how to interact with him just yet. This is a learning year for all of us."

Both professor and students have much to learn from each other. Oliver said she feels respect is an important component of this learning process.

"There has to be a clear boundary between educator and student. There is mutual respect from both, faculty respect for what it is like to be a student and student respect for the faculty role," she said. "Ideally, you have a mentor/mentee relationship that is rewarding for each party."

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