That is why the Tennessee Tech University communications professor signed up to lead the Arts and Media Learning Village, scheduled to open in the fall of 2012 in Ellington and Warf Halls.
“I remember when I moved into the dorms how hard it was to live there and try to meet new people,” Christen said. “With this opportunity, I can help them not only succeed academically but also help them adjust to campus life.”
Ellington and Warf will house TTU’s fifth learning village. TTU started the villages in 2010 as a way to improve retention rates, as putting students in residence halls organized around a central interest helps them develop a closer relationship with the village faculty heads.
“To be academically sound you need to be socially sound,” Christen said. “It doesn't matter if a student is doing well academically if they are miserable; they are not going to want to come back. I want to give students a place where they can feel at home and be academically successful.”
Even before his office is finished in Ellington and Warf, Christen is brainstorming ways to get his students to connect with each other and the university. Some of his ideas include organizing an art show and possibly a talent show. The events will let students have fun and show off what they can do outside of academics.
“We have a lot of talented students on this campus, and not just academically talented,” Christen said. “I’d like to see a campus talent show or an art show that’s not specifically for art students but for students who like to dabble in art.”
Most of what happens in the building will be up to the students; villages are designed to give students the freedom to organize and plan initiatives that are interesting to them. Christen said he hopes to begin meeting with students who will live in the residence hall again next year to brainstorm and begin planning for the students’ return in the fall.
“It’s their village; I’m there to help them organize, to inspire, to help them out,” he said. “I’m accustomed to having students I can help in my classes. Now I’ll have my classes and a whole dorm of students to help.”