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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Observer


Faculty in Residence appreciate Notre Dame community

While rectors live in all of the dorms on campus, and some dorms have a resident priest, there are two dorms that offer a unique adult presence: faculty in residence. Dunne Hall is the home to John Deak, a professor of Austrian history, and his wife Karen Deak, who worked in the IDEA Center. Additionally, Lyons Hall is the residence of Ed Hums, an accounting professor, and his wife Shirley Hums, who recently retired from her job in IT for athletics.

Since 2013, the Division of Student Affairs has pioneered a unique initiative to bridge the gap between students and faculty with the faculty-in-residence program. This program invites faculty members, along with their spouses and pets, to reside in student residence halls. Ed and Shirley Hums became the first married couple to take part in the program in the fall of 2013. Between the Hums, they have 100 years of service to the University in their respective roles.

John and Karen Deak moved into Dunne Hall right after its construction was completed in 2016. During COVID, they added Ziggy, their schnauzer, to their dorm apartment. Prior to his position as faculty in residence, John Deak was a faculty fellow.

“We were faculty fellows, which was a program I don't think they have anymore. But every dorm had a faculty fellow, and we were faculty fellows for Keenan [Hall]. Every other Friday, I went to play video games with the guys in Keenan in their basement and just hang out. And we would often try to go once a week to the dining hall,” John Deak said.

John and Karen Deak also served as the equivalent of a rector in their graduate years at the University of Chicago.

“In order to make ends meet, the University of Chicago hired graduate students, usually married couples, I think they still do. They are the equivalent of a rector. We did that job at Chicago while in graduate school for three years,” John Deak said. “We knew what we were getting into. We had that experience, so we have not been shocked.”

Ed and Shirley Hums did not have the experience of living in a dorm with college students prior to Student Affairs reaching out to them about this opportunity.

“We didn't know what really to expect, you know, but we really enjoy it,” Shirley Hums said.

Faculty in residence at the University live full-time within the dorms. For the Hums, they have a house in Mishawaka which they only return to during Christmas time.

“You can't just be here during the weekend and go home on the weekends, things like that. No, you got to commit to it, and you know that upfront. And I think that's one of the other reasons that we've been kind of successful, hopefully, is that we do integrate ourselves with the students,” Ed Hums said.

Faculty in residence receive a monthly stipend for any programming that they chose to host within the dorm. They also receive a meal plan from the university.

“I would say the funniest thing that I didn't expect in this job, in this place, was the physical location of our apartment being directly across from the bathroom ... I hear so many girlfriends and female friends complimenting each other's shoes and hair and dresses,” Karen Deak said.

Karen and John Deak hand out invitations to everyone in the hall to come over for dinner in groups for tacos, and they host an etiquette dinner before Dunne Hall's signature event, a feast in South Dining Hall.

Shirley Hums invites students over for tea during the semester and cooks pancakes for the students twice a semester. Ed Hums hosts a financial literacy class and talks within the dorm.

“I usually describe us to the guys as the fun aunt and uncle. If you really need a grown up, we're absolutely here for that,” John Deak said.

Faculty in residence do not have the duties or responsibilities that the rector and hall staff in a dorm do, meaning they do not write students up for breaking rules.

“Having that kind of relationship with students would probably be antithetical to the role we have,” John Deak said.

Karen Deak has experienced a much different atmosphere in the dorms when it comes to dorm parties, believing the perceptions most adults have are exaggerated. 

“I would say that John, more than me, gets a lot of questions from other faculty members about what it is like in the dorms ... my perception is that most grownups who work at Notre Dame perceive the dorms to be a non-stop party, especially the guy dorms. That's really not true,” Karen Deak said.

The faculty in residence role serves as a channel for connections not only between lay faculty and students, but also a glimpse into married life. Additionally, it serves as a bridge between faculty's classroom interactions and their awareness of student life in the broader context of dormitory living.

Ed Hums emphasized the value of communal living with individuals of all ages in preparing dormitory students for life beyond graduation.

“Everybody living in a community with a bunch of 20 year olds, well, it's a little bit different. We have some senior citizens down here on the first floor, but you know, that's what they're going to have to face in the future, because they're going to have all different ages living around them. And if you go into an apartment, it's going to be that way,” Ed Hums said.

Both couples attend their dorm's events and masses throughout the year. They use this time to work on building relationships with the students. Over the years, students in Lyons have supported and celebrated the Hums. They hosted a surprise retirement party for Shirley Hums and helped Ed Hums during his second open heart surgery.

“I don't think I could have gotten as good as I did if I was not in Lyons Hall,” Ed Hums said.