Mark Reisinger, Faculty Master
Mark Reisinger, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Director, Department of Geography
Education: PhD, geography, Indiana University at Bloomington, 2001
Research interests: Internal migration in the U.S., Latino immigration and internal migration, race and ethnic geographies, restructuring of local labor markets, regional economic development
Teaching specialties: globalization, population geography, urban geography/planning, economic geography
How long have you been at Binghamton and how long have you been a Faculty Master?
I’ve been a member of Binghamton’s Geography Department since 2001, and I became Faculty Master in spring 2010.
Can you explain what a Faculty Master does?
As Faculty Master, I’m here to provide students with academic advice, helping them negotiate the different offices on campus, making connections between faculty and students, overseeing and promoting academic programs, and acting as a bridge between Academic Affairs and Residential Life. Most importantly, though, I’m here to listen to students.
How do you think Faculty Masters help students academically and why is that important?
Faculty Masters help students academically in a variety of ways. We provide general academic advising for our residents, we assist the RAs in developing academic events for the community and we assist students in finding the appropriate offices to answer specific academic questions. Faculty Masters also provide advice on good study habits and time management. I think this is important because it provides students a person to talk to if they find themselves in academic difficulty. We try to get students to understand that learning does not end when they leave the lecture hall or classroom, but that it is a lifelong process that occurs in a variety of settings, including the residential community.
What is your favorite thing about being Faculty Master?
I enjoy challenging students to think about issues in new and different ways, as well as encouraging them to do their best. I like interacting with students, and hopefully, making a difference in their lives.
What is the difference between the relationships you have with students as a Faculty Master versus those you have in the classroom?
I am able to form closer relationships with the students I have as a Faculty Master relative to those I have in the classroom….The typical course meets twice a week for about 15 weeks, and while I try to get to know all my students, it is often difficult, especially in a large class. As a Faculty Master, I see some of the same students, especially the RAs and the government leaders, several times a week. In some cases, I work with these students for several years. I believe my residents see me more as a mentor/advisor than a teacher.
How has your involvement as a Faculty Master been meaningful to you in ways that wouldn’t have happened if you’d remained solely in the classroom?
Being a Faculty Master has provided me with the opportunity to interact with a greater number of students and to develop some meaningful relationships. It has also provided me with the opportunity to identify and encourage some really great students to achieve more than maybe they thought they could. One of my Faculty Master colleagues says it best: Part of the Faculty Master job is like being a talent scout in that you look for talented students and help them to achieve.
Has being a Faculty Master changed you?
I have always been a student-centered faculty member, but being a Faculty Master has strengthened that. Coming into contact with a greater number of students—and understanding some of the issues that many of them face—has really made me more empathetic to students’ needs.
When you became a Faculty Master when did you learn about Binghamton’s residential communities that surprised you?
The thing that surprised me the most is the dedication and hard work of the Residential Life professional staff. This is one area of the University that most faculty are totally unaware of. Another area that really surprised me was the importance the residents place on the community’s traditions. Also, the number of great students we have here at Binghamton; it is incredible the number of volunteer activities that some of our students are involved in and they still maintain an excellent academic record.
There is no job description for a Faculty Master, so how did you define the role for yourself?
Each Faculty Master has had to define his own role. For me, I want to be the interface between the students’ academic life and their residential life. I think it is really important to have someone in the residential communities that a student can feel comfortable speaking to about academic problems or even personal issues. I think it helps a large University feel like a smaller and friendlier place. I also think it is important for the Faculty Master to provide learning opportunities outside the classroom. Another significant part of the job is working with RAs to plan social, but most importantly, academic or life skills events. I think we do a fairly good job at this with our Transitioning Out Of College series and the courses that are taught in the community, but of course, there is always room for improvement!
So, if you could mold your learning community any way you wish, what would it look like?
I believe that one of the most important task that I have as a Faculty Master (indeed, as a faculty member) is to nurture the intellectual development of my residents/students. I want the residents of Newing to realize that learning and their intellectual development occurs everywhere, not just in the classroom. Quite frankly, I believe that students learn more outside the classroom in an informal setting than they do in the classroom. We offer courses and discussion sections of courses for Newing residents only, but only a small proportion of residents are able to take advantage of these opportunities. I would like to see faculty from across the campus engage Newing residents either through formal presentations and lectures, or maybe even more desirably through informal discussions. I want Newing residents to be critical thinkers - young adults that can analyze both sides of an issue and draw their own conclusions. You know one of the most exciting things about being at a large university is that you come in contact with so many people of different backgrounds and perspectives. I want Newing residents to be tolerant and appreciative of all students' cultural backgrounds and viewpoints. That is what learning is all about.
You mentioned the community traditions and how important they are to residents. Do you have a favorite Newing tradition?
Well, since Newing is one of the oldest residential communities on campus, it has developed several traditions over the years. Newing Navy, Co-rec football, and Autumn Bowl are some that come to mind. One of my favorites is welcome back weekend when we greet new and returning students. However, the tradition that stands above all of the others is that when students leave Newing they leave as tolerant, creative, broad-minded, and imaginative young adults.
Would you recommend being a Faculty Master to a colleague?
The position is not for every faculty member, but I would definitely recommend it to those with the appropriate temperament and those who are student centered. Those with a heavy research agenda probably would not be a good fit because of the time commitment required.
But you enjoy the position?
While I interact with many more students than the average faculty member, I only impact a few. However, reaching those few makes the “job” worthwhile. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.