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William Ziegler, associate professor of computer science, has served as Newing College faculty master since 2006.
Meet the faculty masters: William Ziegler
November 8, 2011Tweet
William Ziegler, associate professor of computer science, and director of the Binghamton University Scholars Program, has served as faculty master at Newing College since 2006. He is one of six faculty masters at the University. For more on the history of the University’s faculty masters, go to http://www2.binghamton.edu/academics/provost/undergrad/faculty-masters/history.html.
Question: Can you explain how faculty masters help students?
Answer: The masters can be instrumental in helping students academically. We are the interface between students and academics when students feel that the direct link between the two is suffering. We make ourselves available to guide students not only academically, but also in every aspect relating to college life.
Q: How are the relationships you have with students as their faculty master different than those you have with them solely as their professor?
A: As master, I get to know students on a much more personal level. With class sizes so large, I do not get to know more than a handful of students in each of my classes. However, as a faculty master I get to know many students and to learn about their interests, families, relationships, etc.
Q: Is this capacity to know students better your favorite thing about being a faculty master?
A: I like interacting with students outside the classroom. The students at Binghamton have wonderful enthusiasm and energy, and I love how much they laugh. You don’t get to see that in the classroom, but you do get to see it as faculty master. I also like working with the Residential Life team because they all strive for the same goals, which is refreshing.
Q: Now that you mentioned Res Life, is there anything you’ve learned about the residential communities since becoming master that has surprised you?
A: The most surprising thing I have learned is how much work the Residential Life staff does. I never envisioned such a dedicated, hard-working group of people, whose primary purpose is to make student life at Binghamton University a model for all universities.
Q: Is there anything about being a faculty master that would surprise your faculty colleagues?
A: I think they would be surprised to learn how important the job is in terms of student retention and success. There are 168 hours in a week and students only spend about 15 of those hours in a classroom. That leaves another 153 hours. If those 153 hours are not successful in the student’s mind, then what goes on in the classroom will likely suffer. I honestly believe students leave a university for reasons other than academics. Sure, most students who leave have poor grades, but that is the result of something outside of the classroom that has interfered with their learning. As a faculty master, I can help work toward balance in a student’s life, and that balance is what keeps our students at Binghamton University. I think my colleagues would be surprised to witness that.
Q: You’ve been a faculty master for a few years. What do you believe are the long-term benefits you’ve gained from this role?
A: I have a whole new appreciation for my job, the University and our students. I enjoy going to Binghamton University every day, because each day is different now.
Q: So, has being a faculty master changed you?
A: By only seeing students in a classroom setting I was only seeing half of who they are, and I realized that I was missing the most important half. I changed the most by realizing that students are much more than a body in a classroom, and that they have much to offer outside that setting.
Q: Can you tell us about some of the programs you’ve been involved in with students?
A: On the academic side, I have led 10 teams of undergraduate students who developed projects that won (or placed near the top) multiple national and international awards, including several first place finishes in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Design Competition, and a $1.4 million FAA grant for a student project at the Greater Binghamton Airport that is currently being built. In my role of faculty master, I have taken students sailing and let them drive my Corvette. Every year we rent a bus and have more than 40 students at a time over to my house for pool parties. With students, I have built a 24-foot-long wooden dragon that resides at Newing College’s Lake Lieberman. I have created a Science Learning Community, a Scholars Learning Community, a Scholars Leadership Community, and have worked in partnership to create a Sustainability Learning Community, all in Newing College. I have participated in dozens of other activities, too numerous to mention. The ones above just happen to be my favorites.
Q: Speaking of favorite things, do you have a favorite Newing tradition?
A: Lake Lieberman! Lake Lieberman was the center of activities for Newing for decades, with tales of pranks, romance, rituals (the good kind) and all sorts of activities. Unfortunately, the lake was drained and is now a swamp. However, once the new Newing College is completed, I have big hopes for a resurgence of activities around Lake Lieberman.
Q: Do you have any plans for the learning community at Newing you can share with us?
A: I would want it to be a place where students are eager to leave their rooms, get out there and participate. With all the social media available, I fear that face-to-face experiences are suffering. There is nothing like face-to-face socializing, solving a problem together, or a good game of volleyball, to create lifelong memories and relationships.
Q: Last question: Would you recommend being a faculty master to a colleague?
A: I would absolutely recommend this job to a colleague. My only hesitation would be that the role of faculty master does not typically lend itself to promotion at a research university, so I would recommend that they would have to be very secure in their current academic professional track before becoming masters.