One-on-one with Hecht faculty master

Not many people with their doctoral degrees live in dormitories with 900 undergraduate freshmen students. Then again, not many people with their doctoral degrees almost become professional boxers either. Welcome to the realities of Laura Kohn-Wood.

Kohn-Wood lived in different locations all around the country before finally coming here to UM in the summer of 2009 and filling the position of Associate Faculty Master in Hecht Residential College.

Kohn-Wood, who also teaches a new undergraduate program in the School of Education called Human Social Development, lives with her husband London and their 4-year-old son Liam in the residential apartment located on the first floor of Pentland Tower in Hecht. London is also involved with the school, taking nine credits this semester as a student in the Bachelor General Studies (BGS) program here at UM, a program designed for working adults.

As Associate Faculty Master, Kohn-Wood is in charge of helping resident assistants plan educational and social programs for freshman students, such as hosting a cooking and game night where attendees are offered advice on how to register for classes. While living in the same building as hundreds of students might seem unusual to some, she appreciates that she can be so close to the people that she helps.

“Living on campus, we’re able to both participate in as well as impact the kinds of things that happen on campus that are not as closely tied to the classroom,” Kohn-Wood said. Her husband London also agrees that the on-campus apartment leads to more communication with the students.

“You get to know them, living with them for nine months a year,” he said. “You just interact with them a lot more than you would if it was just a matter of teaching and going home or going to class and going home.”

Living in the apartment gives Kohn-Wood and her husband the opportunity of raising their 4-year-old son Liam in a unique environment, interacting with college students and having campus grounds serve as his backyard. Even though he can be shy, he seems to enjoy having all of the extra people around.

“It kind of helps him,” Kohn-Wood said.  “Having the RAs [resident assistants] is like having 22 other older cousins.”

However, Liam is not the only one who has gotten to know the students well. Since moving into the on-campus apartment a year and a half ago, Kohn-Wood and her husband have also become closer to several of the students that they have met.

“They’re both great people that just have a true knack of caring for people genuinely and just enjoying life however it comes at them,” said Jonathan Schrader, a senior here at UM who served as a resident assistant in Hecht his sophomore and junior years. “Both are pretty laid-back and genuine people.”

Kohn-Wood left her job at the University of Michigan to become the Assistant Faculty Master in Hecht as well as a professor in the School of Education here at UM. However, teaching students was not the only activity that she participated in while living in the Great Lake State.

“If I had been younger or if I wasn’t sort of already getting established in my career, I would have seriously considered doing professional women’s boxing,” Kohn-Wood said.

Having initially started boxing just for fun, there was a point where her trainer tried to convince her to give up teaching and pursue a career in boxing.

“I just loved it and was prepared to get my amateur card,” Kohn-Wood said. While she eventually had to choose boxing as a recreational activity instead of her career, she fondly looks back on her days in the gym and even had a ring name picked out: Laura “K.O.” Kohn.

With both her and her husband London disliking the long, cold winters in Michigan, Kohn-Wood left boxing behind her and now enjoys the warm weather that South Florida has to offer. They do not see themselves leaving anytime soon.

“I think that in the long run, this is definitely the best situation for us,” London said.

Bolton Lancaster may be contacted at