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Photo by: Oscar Herrera

If you have seen two English mastiffs being walked on campus, they are probably accompanied by Moody Towers Faculty-in-Residence, Scott Gilbertson or his wife Michelle Gilbertson. 

The chemistry professor and the associate dean of faculty affairs in the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, has been a FIR at Moody Towers for three years. He lives with his wife and two English mastiffs on campus after both his kids graduated from high school and left for college. 

“We’re kind of empty nesters. And so, my wife likes to say that we decided to fill our nest up again by living on campus with students,” Gilbertson said. 

Gilbertson’s wife is an assistant chair in the Chemistry Department at Rice University and serves as Gilbertson’s full partner in the Faculty-in-Residence program.

“Our situation is somewhat unique in that we’re really copartners in doing this,” Gilbertson said. “My wife, she’s on a non-tenure track faculty at Rice, but she really identifies with UH. We have season basketball tickets. She’s become a Coog in many ways.”

Michelle is there at every event they have at Moody Towers, whether it’s tutoring or having dinner with students, Michelle is intimately involved, Gilbertson said.

“It’s important to recognize that because we both are really intimately involved in this, it’s kind of a two-for-one, in that case,” Gilbertson said.

This is not the first time Gilbertson and his family have lived on campus, while he was a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Gilbertson was the Faculty-in-Residence for three years before leaving the University.

Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, Gilbertson is accustomed to living in a tight-knit community. For him living on campus reminds him of his small-town community, Gilbertson said.

“I stop at Cougar Grounds to get coffee and I have gotten to know a number of the people there who are sort of regulars,” Gilbertson said. “So, it’s kind of fun, it’s very much like being in a small community and that you get to talk to people and bump into people.”

Living on campus for faculty is not much different than a student living on campus. However, instead of living in a traditional dorm, the Gilbertsons live in an apartment built within Moody Towers. To connect better with students, the Gilbertsons open up their home to students to come in and have a snack. 

“One of the programming things we do is during finals week. We’ll have cookies and coffee and then at Christmas time, we do spiced cider,” Gilbertson said. “Students come in, we have an open house.”

The Faculty-in-Residence program was created to strengthen the connection between the students’ academic and residential learning experiences, according to Student Housing and Residential Life.

As the FIR, the Gilbertsons’ plan to participate in events to encourage students to connect with them.

“So, every Monday, we go to dinner with a different floor. We announce that we’re going and encourage the RAs to invite their residents to come along,” Gilbertson said. 

Every month they try to have an educational or fun event planned for the residents. In the past they have held pool tournaments, game nights and resume workshops.

In addition to weekly and monthly activities, the Gilbertsons also offer frequent tutoring sessions to students who need extra help in chemistry and open up the opportunity for students to come and mingle with them every week.

“Every Wednesday we do ‘smart cookies’ where we sit in the lobby and just make ourselves available,” Gilbertson said. “We’re just in the lobby, and there’s a cohort of students that pretty much always show up and then there’s a group that will come by, we’ll offer them something to eat, chips or cookies and they’ll stop in for a little bit and say hello.”

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