Dr. Michael Griffin, an associate professor of Greek and Roman philosophy, lived in Totem Park as a member of the Professor in Residence program. We sat down with him to talk about the program.
What was your motivation for joining the program?
From my experience in first year at UBC, I remember how huge and sometimes faceless the university can feel, especially if your first encounter with faculty is from the back of a huge lecture hall. I was excited about the opportunity to connect with students outside the classroom, to put a human face on the faculty, and to bring an academic dimension to the social life of residence.
I did my doctorate at the University of Oxford, which features a college system that houses professors, grad students, and undergraduates across all disciplines in the same residences. That was a great opportunity for me to connect with researchers and interesting peers outside my area of academic interest and comfort zone, and I think the Professor in Residence program at UBC has a chance to do the same thing.
How has your experience been so far?
Fantastic. The students and RAs, and my colleagues on the Residence Life team, have been amazingly welcoming.
I’ve enjoyed conversations about all kinds of subjects, and I’ve learned a great deal. My lecturing style has adapted based on discussions with students and watching my colleagues on the Academic Team (A-Team) work with students.
What were some of the activities you ran last year?
I ran a “pizza and ideas” film night each term. In Term 1 we watched The Matrix (1999) and talked about questions that film raised. I offered academic workshops on exam strategies, picking a major, and term papers, and I held regular office hours at a table in the Commonsblock. I also invited different floors and houses to dinner during the term to talk about their experience with faculty at UBC.