Four new faculty masters at UM residential colleges

Four of the University of Miami’s five residential colleges welcomed new faculty masters this year.

Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, John Barker, Jan Nijman and Scotney Evans were appointed faculty masters of Hecht, Stanford, Pearson and Eaton Residential Colleges, respectively.

The previous faculty masters either left before their two-to-three year term was up, as the contract for faculty masters is not binding, or had their allotted time at this position expire.

A time limit is implemented on the faculty master position so new people can rotate in.

Hecht also received two new associate masters, Monica Webb and Amy Weisman, while Stanford greeted its new associate master in residence, Laura Kohn-Wood.

“What is very good about the current moment is that there is a lot of turnover,” Nijman said. “We have a very good mix of new people and experienced people.“

For the first time, the Council of Masters now includes the residential colleges’ associate masters, indicating the need for a more cohesive and unified approach to programming across the board.

The council, headed by Maldonado, meets once a month to discuss programming ideas and develop a collective sense of what serving as a faculty master entails.

“This is a transition year,” said Dr. William Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. “We [the Council of Masters] are reinventing the master.”

The Council of Masters hopes to integrate joint programming and eliminate the tradition of each residential college acting independently of one another. These plans are in preliminary stages.

Barker and Maldonado are working closely together this year to eradicate the long-standing rivalry between Stanford and Hecht residential colleges. However, SportsFest will not be eliminated.

As of next year Stanford and Hecht residential colleges will house only first-year residents – a change intended to cultivate a more consistent freshman experience.

“I think Stanford and Hecht are in a very interesting place this year,” Barker said. “We are really trying to design something that is beneficial for freshman so they learn how to navigate the system early on.”

The remaining buildings, housing primarily upperclassmen students, will focus on developing more special interest housing and designing specialized programs that reach out to the uninvolved students.

“The idea is really to empower and engage the residents in taking on an active leadership role in developing programs,” Evans said.

Faculty Masters and associate masters live in residence in each of the five residential colleges, working closely with resident assistants and the resident coordinator to develop programming for the building.

They also host programs in the apartments and open their homes to students and organizations as a meeting space.

In order to become a residential college master, faculty members apply for the position and then undergo a review process in which they are interviewed by Green and Patricia Whitely, vice president for student affairs.

Once appointed, faculty masters move in during the summer and live in the apartments year-round with their families.