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Finding homes difficult at first

March 26, 2003

By Elvia Aguilar

When professors arrive at Baylor one of the first major decisions they make is where to live. Over the years, professors have found many places either on campus or off campus to call home.

Dr. Julie Sweet, first-year assistant professor of history, said she didn't have too many options of where to live when she first arrived at Baylor.

'I chose to live in an apartment for a while, but what I really wanted was to live in an actual neighborhood and be part of a community,' Sweet said.

A colleague told her about the Fort Faculty neighborhood, and Sweet said she was excited about the idea.

'I now live in what will always be known as the 'Packard house,'' Sweet said. 'I love it.'

Sweet said the three-bedroom house gives her 'more than enough room' and is 'just a jump away' from campus. She has been able to invite students over and become part of the community she wanted to join.

'I will stay here for as long as I can stay,' Sweet said.

However, leasing a house is not always the right fit for other professors.

Dr. Amy Vail, an assistant professor in the Great Texts program, said faculty housing did not fit her lifestyle.

'The houses are nice, but they are geared more towards professors with families, and the houses were too large for me,' Vail said.

Vail spent her first semester at Baylor living as a guest in her department chairman's home. She said she made friends with the people in her department, but it was a little harder to meet other people because of her housing situation.

'I was hoping to find faculty apartments here because most universities provide them,' Vail said. 'I would have really enjoyed the opportunity to be closer to campus and meet a more diverse crowd.'

Vail finally chose to live in an apartment with a fireplace and enough room for her and her cat Ranger.

Baylor administration does not get involved in suggesting where professors should live when they first arrive here. Usually, the professors depend on their department to give them suggestions of where they can live.

'We don't tell professors where they should live,' Lois Ferguson, vice president for academic affairs, said.'That is entirely up to them.'

Dr. Anne Gwin, lecturer, said she knew to ask her department for advice.

'I personally did not want to live on campus, so I took a whole day to look at what my options were in Waco.' Gwin said.

Like Vail, Gwin said first-year professors might become more acquainted with the area if Baylor provided more diverse faculty housing options. She decided to rent an apartment away from campus and enjoys the 'quiet time.'

'Baylor and Waco are not big or scary, but it does take a while to realize that and get comfortable,' Gwin said.

Other professors prefer to be a little farther from campus. Dr. Brad Owens, assistant professor of journalism, lived on campus for two years. He now lives in Rockdale, which is about an hour drive to work each morning. Owens said he enjoys living away from campus, but he may return one day.

'I mainly live away from campus for family reasons,' Owens said. 'However, once my son graduates from high school I like the idea of walking to work.'

Regardless of where they live, Sweet, Vail and Gwin said they now know Baylor is 'home' although it was a little difficult to settle at first.