Faculty-in-residence provide relief

by Lainie Fraser, Staff Writer

Faculty-in-residence are professors who live within the residence halls. They are experienced individuals who are invested in and respectful of those around them. They even have meal plans in order to interact more with students.

“FIRs enhance the intellectual atmosphere of the residence hall experience,” rhetoric and writing studies professor and current FIR member Paul Minifee said. “We serve as reminders that a resident’s priority should be academic success.”

Minifee has been a FIR member at the Cuicacalli Suites for three years. He believes that FIRs are an incredibly important aspect of any college campus because they help students understand how to speak to professionals and communicate in a variety of situations.

“Students need to learn how to navigate smoothly between their personal and professional identities,” he said.

Upon moving into the dorms, many freshmen don’t know about FIRs.

“At first I didn’t know that faculty members were going to be living in my dorm with me,” psychology sophomore and former Cuicacalli resident Amanda Zizzo said. “Now I know that they are here to help us with really anything we need.”

While FIRs serve as liaisons between students and faculty, they can also simply be a friendly face to turn to. Time spent with a FIR doesn’t always have to be serious and academic. Minifee said he loves playing basketball with his residents. Many students feel comfortable working out their problems about classes, professors or even more personal issues with them.

“I’ve formed meaningful bonds with a handful of residents who consider me a confidant,” Minifee said. “For many residents, FIRs are mentors whose wisdom is guidance they trust.”

Over the years, Minifee has become more invested in the welfare and success of his fellow residents because he is a witness to the pressures that students experience. Zizzo calls Minifee her life coach.

“We discuss her personal relationships, her hopes and fears and life challenges that she’s seeking to overcome,” Minifee said. “I find it incredibly gratifying to play a part in her personal and academic successes and she consistently expresses her gratitude for my genuine investment in her endeavors.”

“He understands what it is like to be thrown in to a new environment on your own and away from home,” Zizzo said. “Just knowing that he was there if I needed him got me through a lot. I have since moved out of Cuic, but Dr. Paul and I remain close.”

Minifee manages to build relationships with residents through his genuine sincerity for their well-being.

He is also a strong academic resource. Twice every semester, he conducts Writing Placement Assessment workshops that have proven to be effective.

“The positive feedback that I receive has been tremendous,” Minifee said. “I’ve received emails, cards and high-fives from residents who come back to thank me for helping them succeed on the WPA. That makes me feel as if I’ve made a difference.”

FIRs are friends, allies and resources. They help prove that professors don’t bite and that residents have a friend to turn to in trying times.