LGBTQ Affairs faculty fellow aims to increase student engagement
The new faculty fellow for the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Affairs is focusing his attention on connecting with students on a more personal level this semester.
The Office of LGBTQ Affairs selected Francisco Galarte, an assistant professor in the department of Gender and Women’s Studies as its first faculty fellow last month.
“I really love engaging with students,” Galarte said. “I think as professors, the ways in which we engage with students is primarily in the classroom … I feel like I’d like to interact with students a little more. Being able to do so with students at LGBTQ Affairs just seemed like a good fit for my area of study, what I do, what I’m passionate about.”
Chris Sogge, a senior studying sociology and gender and women’s studies and ASUA Pride Alliance co-director, said he was looking forward to having Galarte as a faculty fellow for LGBTQ Affairs to help add emphasis to the “T” in LGBTQ. Sogge added that he thinks it’s an area that often gets overlooked.
Lili Steffen / The Daily Wildcat Fransisco Galarte is the first faculty fellow for LGBTQ Affairs, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2013. The LGBTQ Resource Centeris located on the fourth floor of the Student Union Memorial Center.
“It’s one thing to have graduate assistants or different people that have to work, but a faculty fellow is there to be a resource for students who come into the center,” Sogge said. “There’s a lot more guaranteed availability.”
Galarte said his inspiration for becoming a faculty fellow came through personal experiences with mentors in his undergraduate career.
“I decided to do this because I felt like when I was an undergraduate, a space like LGBTQ Affairs and cultural centers like we have here on campus were really integral to me as a student,” Galarte said. “I know I wouldn’t have graduated had I not had those spaces. For me to think I can be a faculty member and interact with students who are lucky to visit those centers seemed like an amazing opportunity to give back in the ways in which I had mentorship when I was an undergrad.”
Jennifer Hoefle-Olson, program director for LGBTQ Affairs, said she was excited that the Office of LGBTQ Affairs has expanded enough to have its first faculty fellow this year.
“It’s such an honor to have a faculty member come and spend time in the LGBTQ Resource Center,” Hoefle-Olson said. “I think he’ll be able to provide an out of the classroom experience … which is really meaningful in terms of helping students engage not only academically, but also develop community and to foster a connection that will hopefully stay with them through their time here.”
The connection between students and the faculty fellow doesn’t have to be a formal situation like with a regular professor, Hoefle-Olson said, it could be something as casual as grabbing coffee.
The Faculty Fellow program allows UA faculty to provide such a connection with students. The program is nationally recognized and award-winning and has been on campus since 1984. The UA currently has 30 fellows in 30 venues across campus.
“It helps students get connected on a smaller level,” Hoefle-Olson said. “The UA is such an enormous campus, and it’s hard sometimes to find our little niche, so this program helps make it a smaller place so you can get connected better.”
Throughout the year, Galarte will be holding office hours, but he said he also hopes to engage with people over Twitter.
“I engage with one of my large introductory classes over Twitter and that particular account I’m dedicating to university work,” Galarte said. “If you can’t engage with me at the center or my office hours don’t work for you, I’m happy to let you see what’s going on in my life and what I’m into over Twitter.”
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