Since joining the CU Faculty in 2000, Dr. Justin Walton has been readily recognized by students in the Communication Department but was relatively unknown by students in other disciplines. That is, until he took up residence in the living quarters of the McMahon Center at Cameron Village as CU's official Faculty in Residence for the 2009-10 academic year. Since classes started in mid-August, the assistant professor has quickly become a familiar face across campus, getting acquainted with students, faculty and staff outside of his academic department.
"I enjoy walking to class every day," Walton says. "I have the opportunity to greet so many students that I would otherwise never get to know. It's become clear to me in a very short time that by living at the McMahon Center, you become an instant part of campus life."
Walton says he's been intrigued by the Faculty in Residence program since it was introduced at CU in 2006. "I had thought about it in previous years, but I was still in graduate school and didn't feel I had the time to devote to it," he explains. Completing his doctoral degree in 2008 has removed some of those time constraints. "When the opportunity came up for this year, I felt like if there was ever a time for me to step in as Faculty in Residence, this was it. I feel like now I can truly make a contribution to campus life."
"Dr. Walton is a dynamic educator who genuinely cares about his students," says Dr. John McArthur, Vice President for Academic Affairs. "In accepting the appointment as CU's Faculty in Residence, he brings that dedication and commitment to a broader arena on campus."
CU's Faculty in Residence program was designed to help improve student academic performance. Appointment to the program comes with much more than just a place to live.
"The Faculty in Residence program is a great opportunity for our students but it is also a great experience for our faculty," McArthur explains. "The program exposes faculty members to non-curricular student issues and environments, increases their familiarity with student concerns, and provides a unique perspective on the overall experience of being a student at Cameron."
Like his Faculty in Residence predecessors, Walton is committed to holding at least two educational programs per semester and will maintain office hours to provide career and academic advice to students. He also has his own goals for the program.
"I really want to help students become more comfortable on campus, so that they get as much out of the college experience as possible," he says. "Interacting with students, mentoring them, providing opportunities to broaden their horizons outside of the classroom - those are some of the things that motivated me to apply for the Faculty in Residence position."
Since taking up residence at the McMahon Center in July, Walton has integrated himself into life at Cameron Village. During move-in weekend, the outgoing Walton was on hand to meet and greet parents and students. "I really enjoyed being part of the move-in experience," he says. "If in some way I could allay the fears of some of the parents of freshmen students who were leaving home for the first time, then my time that weekend was well spent."
He was also on hand for most of the Welcome Week activities. "It's amazing how many activities there are on campus every week," he says. "As a faculty member, I wasn't aware that we have so many opportunities for our students. Now that I'm living on campus, I see that there's always something going on, and I know I'll be going to many more athletic events and campus activities than in the past."
Walton is also looking forward to his first official event on September 29, when he will present Oklahoma legislator Joe Dorman, who will speak to CU students about the value of public service. "I want to motivate college students to get more active in current and community affairs," Walton explains. "What better way than to have a public servant give a first-hand account of the rewards of public service."
During Diversity Week in October, Walton will host a screening of the film "Crash," the 2004 blockbuster film that interweaves the stories of several seemly disparate characters, with a group discussion to follow. He's also planning a Star Trek night, which will include a discussion about time travel along with a screening of the 2009 feature film, "Star Trek." For this event, Walton will encourage CU students to don their best Starship Enterprise attire.
For the Spring 2010 semester, Walton says he'd like to host an event for CU's international students, host a student-led town hall meeting, and present a nutritionist to offer tips about healthy eating while living on campus.
Faculty in Residence events are open to all CU students, faculty and staff.
September 14, 2009