Miami University professors make Oxford home
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 21:09
Like Janis Ian said in “Mean Girls,” seeing a professor outside of class is like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs. But about 60 percent of Miami University full-time faculty live in Oxford, so students will have to accept that seeing their professors Uptown is a real possibility.
This year, Miami’s Oxford campus has 827 full-time faculty, including those who are visiting professors and have one-year contracts.
Approximately 500 of the full-time faculty reside in Oxford. Other top communities include Cincinnati, Hamilton and Westchester, according to information provided by Janet Cox, assistant provost for personnel and director of Academic Personnel Services.
Over the years, it is possible the number of professors who choose to reside in Oxford has declined, Cox said.
“Anecdotally, over the years I understand that there has been a decline of faculty who reside in Oxford, but I don’t really have the data to support that,” Cox said. “But this has been over something like 30 years not just the last five.”
According to Cox, there are many factors that come into play when professors decide where to live while teaching at Miami.
“I think [the reasons] are very personal,” Cox said. “For example, it could be that a spouse or partner is in a career and therefore the need is to find a location to accommodate a dual career couple. Certainly another factor might be the school systems. Finally it’s housing, it’s what’s in Oxford and the surrounding area.”
Todd Edwards, associate professor of teacher education, said he lives in Oxford to feel like a part of the Miami community and he would prefer to live here.
“It was important for me to be a part of the university community and not only see students in class but outside of class, when I go to Kroger,” Edwards said. “I like getting to know my colleagues and my students less formally by being in the town where they are.”
Professors living within the student community are not just beneficial to the professors, but also for students, junior Tyler Fox said.
“I think it has them feel more involved and have more sense of community and understand where we’re coming from,” Fox said. “It also puts a good, maybe not directly conscious, but subconscious level for students to behave if they know there’s a chance of running into a professor.”
Sophomore Alyssa Hoffman said professors who run into students outside the classroom might even mention it to their class.
“I know I had a professor who called out one of the kids at class and [said] she saw her at Starbucks uptown right before class started,” Hoffman said. “But [the student] thought it was funny, so she took it in a positive way.”
Edwards said living in Oxford has a lot of advantages, both for his career and for his family.
“I can walk to work every day,” Edwards said. “I feel pretty safe with my kids in the town, my own children; I think it’s a good place to raise kids.”
Living in a college town also provides cultural experiences that anywhere else wouldn’t be able to provide, according to Edwards.
“My kids went with me to see the Dalai Lama, there aren’t many places I can do that other than a college town,” Edwards said.
Although approximately 500 professors live in Oxford that still leaves a large portion who live in outside in neighboring communities. Edwards said he believes it shouldn’t be that way.
“Some people aren’t small town country folks and they want more of a city experience,” Edwards said. “[If that’s the case] why don’t you get a job at an urban university? When people interview here I always encourage them to live in Oxford.”
Living in a college community could be difficult because of the typical college student life. However, some professors said it doesn’t bother them.
“It’s not annoying at all,” Brenda Dales, teacher education lecturer and Miami University alum, said. “You have to get used to the rhythm of Oxford.
Once you understand what the rhythm is it is different from living in another type of community. [For example] I wouldn’t go to the supermarket the weekend before classes start. You kind of have to plan a little bit differently.”
Dales said she thinks that the students only enrich the community.
While running into professors could potentially be awkward for students, professors who live in Oxford also have to adjust to living in a community of college kids. But the close proximity has its advantages, according to Fox.
“Putting up with the shenanigans at times can be a little overwhelming,” Fox said. “It definitely adds to that kind of personal relationship besides just the professor being solely the professor. I’ve always found it easier to learn from a friend than anything else.”