July 13, 2010
As part of Rollins' Living Learning Community program, the College built its first-ever faculty apartment during the renovation of Ward Hall in summer 2008. Now in its third year, few could have predicted the impact its inhabitants would have on the student body. But when Marco settled in over the summer before the 2009-10 academic year, he quickly became a campus celebrity, as few could resist a quick pat across his furry head as they made their way to class.
Marco belongs to the second-ever Faculty-in-Residence, Gabriel Barreneche. A friendly and feisty apricot toy poodle, Marco brings a sense of home to the Rollins campus, symbolizing one objective of the faculty in residence program—to help students feel more at home while away at college.
The core philosophy behind bringing a faculty member to live on campus with his or her family is to better connect what happens in the classroom with outside life. As many as two programs a week are put on in Ward Hall to provide students with a variety of offerings that are both social and educational.
Barreneche lives in a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment located on the first floor of Ward Hall with Marco and his wife, Ileana. “A lot of students know who I am, but everyone knows Marco,” said Barreneche. His presence exemplifies Rollins' commitment to creating a collegiate environment where faculty-student relationships are crucial to all aspects of a student's academic and social development.
The Barreneche family is truly enjoying life on campus. “I really like that I can attend campus events and participate in residence activities right outside my door,” said Barreneche. “As a lawyer, Ileana often works long hours, but she gets involved when she can and recently presented an information session at Ward Hall on constitutional rights, which the students loved.”
Barreneche, who has been a Rollins faculty member since 2003, teaches intermediate and advanced level Spanish language, culture and literature courses. He’s also the director of the Living Learning Communities program.
At beginning of the 2009-10 academic year, the Barreneche family (including Marco) hosted a Salsa-themed open-house in their new home and then a barbecue night in January to welcome students back after the holidays. Both were a huge success.
“Being a Faculty-in-Residence is certainly not just about having a short commute to work,” although he readily admits that being 20 feet from the library has been a big perk. “It’s about connecting with the students and extending the learning outside of the classroom.” The Barreneche family will begin their second year in the faculty apartment in Fall 2010, an experience they hope will be just as rewarding as their first year.