Photo Courtesy of USC News Here to help · Neelesh Tiruviluamala, Laura Baker and John Pascarella are three of the six new faculty members who will live in USC Village’s residential colleges. They were selected from a pool of 17 finalists.
June 27, 2017
Come August, a total of 23 professors will live among students in the eight residential colleges spread throughout campus, including the addition of six for the new USC Village. Each residential faculty member was selected through a competitive application process for a term of four years.
Director for Residential Education Emily Sandoval espouses the benefits of students and professors sharing a common living space, which she said helps bridge the gap between the classroom experience and living experience. Students are allowed to form closer, more personal connections with the faculty, she said.
“They lower that invisible wall, that barrier, that sometimes students see faculty behind,” Sandoval said. “They become more human. They’re people. They’re sharing their space, their families, sometimes pets, welcoming students into their homes.”
These include professors Trisha Tucker in McCarthy Honors College, Carla Della Gatta in West Residential College, Caroline Muglia in Parkside International Residential College and Edwin Hill in Parkside Arts & Humanities Residential College.
Seventeen finalists were invited for a half day of interviews where the screening committee and residential education student leaders learned more about each candidate. The final step was a social assessment, where the applicants were invited to attend one of two social events after work.
Ultimately, the six faculty members were chosen.
“I call it a legacy,” Sandoval said. “Especially with the USC Village being brand new, that doesn’t have any traditions, so we get to set the traditions, and start the traditions and start a history that doesn’t exist.”
The six faculty who will live in the USC Village include Tucker and Pascarella in the McCarthy Honors College, Ruth Chung in USC Village’s Building 6, Neelesh Tiruviluamala in Building 7, Broderick Leaks in Building 8 and Laura Baker in Building 9.
John Pascarella has been involved in residential education for five years, but this upcoming year will be his first time leading programming for the honors college. Previously a high school teacher, Pascarella now teaches graduate students at the Rossier School of Education. He saw residential education as an opportunity to interact more with undergraduates.
“It’s a big commitment to serve the students of our campus,” Pascarella said. “The point is we’re here living amongst the students and we create programming that connects home, profession, and academics, as well as social opportunities. We’re there if they need to talk to any adult adviser or a mentor and having immediate access to that person on a fairly open basis.”
Pascarella notes that residential education has several benefits for faculty such as experiencing campus life and the convenience of not having to commute in L.A. traffic. But he takes part in the program because he sees it first and foremost as a “service-oriented commitment.”
Trisha Tucker will join Pascarella as the second residential faculty member in McCarthy. It will be Tucker’s first year in the residential education program — as a professor, that is. Tucker was a USC honors student during her undergraduate years, where she was influenced particularly by her former residential faculty member and current USC professor Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Tucker’s overwhelmingly positive experience living in the honors college contributed greatly to her decision to become a residential faculty member herself.
“It was where I met my best friends throughout college and really where I got to feel like part of the USC community,” Tucker said. “I believe that the residential experience is really impactful for students and I wanted to be a part of that as a faculty member.”
Even though her position is competitive, Tucker said being a residential faculty member does not speak to everyone.
“It attracts a very specific type of professor,” Tucker said. “It can’t be the type of professor who wants to teach their expertise, teach the thing that they already know, and then go home. I think [residential educators] see teaching as not just an occupation but a calling and a lifestyle.”