Faculty residing in college houses learn to combine family and pets with a setting of noisy college students. Several faculty members living in college houses shared their experiences with The Daily Pennsylvanian.
House Dean Frank Pellicone:
House Dean Frank Pellicone has lived in Harrison for almost 15 years — “it’s clearly somewhere that I enjoy being,” he said. He lives with his husband, and his rat terrier Elvis, which has been Harrison’s primary canine resident for over six years.
Ever since he was the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate at Yale University, Pellicone knew he wanted a similar job in academia as a house dean.
“For me this is a great combination of being a student advisor, teaching and having access to student life and being able to help,” Pellicone said.
Elvis’ presence in Harrison has been marked ever since he was made the house symbol.
“I think a vast number of residents really appreciate having a dog in the residence,” Pellicone said. “A lot of people come and tell me how much they miss their pets.” One former resident and Graduate Associate even made a cake in the shape of Elvis for his birthday several years ago.
Elvis is much less happy when students move out: once the majority of residents leave for the summer, little noises bother him that otherwise wouldn’t. But Pellicone is much more used to the constant transitions.
“I would be more sad if people never left, but our role is to help people move on with their lives ... but it’s always nice when students stop by again and reconnect,” Pellicone said.
While Elvis has been a star in the college house, Pellicone’s husband has felt welcome as well, and has frequently been mistaken for Pellicone.
“I think it’s harder for spouses to find their place in the house when they aren’t necessarily part of Penn, but my husband has been doing great and has gotten involved with different events here and given talks,” Pellicone said.
Pellicone recognizes that for some, the college house won’t be the center of Penn for everyone.
“For some people, Harrison will just be the place where they eat and sleep, but there’s a strong core of people for whom this house has become Penn for them, and that’s really rewarding to stay in touch with them,” Pellicone said. “I knew one ... former RA who had recently married another former RA, and two years ago made their son’s middle name ‘Harrison’, and they brought him around to see the campus recently.”
Dean Dennis DeTurck:
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Riepe Faculty Master Dennis DeTurck has lived in Riepe since 2009.
“The point is to build community ... and to show faculty are human — we’re fun, we have issues too, and sometimes there’s a wall between faculty and students, which is healthy in some situations, but in others we need to let students see faculty as more of a resource than just for class,” DeTurck said.
In-house faculty try to introduce students to the academic community and help students make connections. Each faculty member in Riepe holds food events, from DeTurck’s cookie nights to Sunday brunches by College House Fellow Ralph Rosen’s family.
DeTurck’s cat is always a prominent guest to his cookie nights. DeTurck’s last cat passed away in Jan. 2014, but was soon replaced by a stray cat that former Riepe residents found wandering around Hamilton Village. DeTurck held a contest to name the cat, and decided on Bob.
Though Bob may be a little hesitant to interact with students, DeTurck is not phased by the weird student behavior he witnesses in the Quad.
“I get to hear all sorts of things, that ... I find interesting,” DeTurck said. “There are times when it’s bad, but you know when it’s coming like Spring Fling ... it’s actually much worse during the summer when you’re not here, and we get high school kids.”
“You guys are interesting — it’s not just like I’m the faculty missionary among the natives, I’m gaining something too,” DeTurck said. “I can know my students better when I teach or when I’m acting as the dean.”
DeTurck’s neighbors in the Quad have brought him to events he otherwise wouldn’t attend, like Penn Lacrosse games and theatre productions. But overall, his role to students in the house is not like one of a parent — he doesn’t get overly attached.
“I don’t mind seeing you guys move on, and it’s great having new people come in each year who offer something different,” DeTurck said.
Faculty Fellow Jamie-Lee Josselyn:
Professor Jamie-Lee Josselyn graduated from the College in 2005, and ten years later is back living on campus. She started teaching writing at Penn in 2010 and moved into Hill in 2014. She moved into her position of faculty fellow with her dog Primo, two cats and her boyfriend of seven years who is not affiliated with the University.
“I’m really interested in alternative education ... and I think that education starts in the classroom, but the conversations really go a lot deeper in other places like the Kelly Writers House or in a lounge, and I thought I would have something to add,” Josselyn said.
One of her pets also couldn’t be more excited to live among hundreds of young adults.
“The dog is thriving — Primo loves it. He has 500 new friends who he’s constantly getting excited about,” Josselyn said.
Josselyn said the experience of moving back on campus “wasn’t exactly eye-opening for me, but living in the dorms has reminded me about undergraduate life in a way that I had forgotten in the past 10 years — it’s been an education.”
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