The Faculty Housing Process Uncovered

Photo by  Audrey Powell/The Choate News

Every spring, new and old faculty vie for housing in a system determined largely by years of employment and family size.

“Housing season is the most exciting time of the year,” enthused biology teacher Mr. Deron Chang. However, he was referring to the process that faculty members, not boarding students, undergo. Starting at the beginning of spring term, faculty members engage in a complicated process to select their housing for the upcoming year.

“It’s not a lottery. It’s a process,” said Ms. Katie Levesque, Dean of Faculty, regarding the faculty housing system. “I would say it’s similar in some ways and different in others to the student lottery. I post in Faculty Notes, a weekly faculty newspaper, apartments that we know will be vacant each week, and then the whole faculty can apply if they want.”

Explaining how faculty are chosen for specific houses for which they bid, Ms. Levesque continued, “We have a system based off family size of the faculty members and housing points, which are based on years of experience. Those two factors apply for non-dorm housing, and for in-dorm housing, an advisory match also comes into play. People can apply, then based on the category of the house and the category of the applicant, housing points, and quality of advising, I make assignments.”

Houses are assigned a letter B to E to determine what kind of family should occupy a particular home. B designates a house intended for a single faculty member or a couple with fewer than ten years of experience, C for a family with one child or a couple with more than ten years of experience, D for a family with two children, and E for a family with three or more children.

For special cases in which two faculty members have the same number of points in the same category, Mr. Chang explained, “No one knows what happens, but the school reserves the right to think about the advising situation. There is an aspect of subjectivity.”

Spanish teacher Ms. Nancy Burress, who currently resides in Bernhard House, commented on the varying preferences of faculty in regards to housing.  “I would say that it depends on what stage of your life you are in. I have lived in and out of various dorm housing,” she said.

Similarly to the list for most coveted student dorms, the list for the most coveted faculty residences is nebulous. “If you ask a dozen faculty members, they all might have different answers. There are certain apartments that are really popular when they open up. I tend to be surprised at what ends up being really popular and what isn’t,” remarked Ms. Levesque. 

Mr. Chang believes that Edsall House is commonly regarded as the best dorm for faculty. “It’s an E house. There are very few students in the dorm, but it’s still a dual house advising situation. The house is absolutely beautiful and in a great location,” he said.

Ms. Levesque believes the faculty housing system has proven itself to be fair. She commented, “We can’t do everything all at once, but we have a plan that tries to keep things fair to ensure continuous development of faculty housing. Teachers pay for their own decorations, but anything that would really be considered a renovation would be paid for by the school. We have a budget, and we have a process for reviewing where the budget should go. We are able to do several major renovations each year to kitchens, bathrooms, removing walls here and there.”

However, Mr. Chang believes that the current housing system could use improvement. Houses are placed in categories solely based upon the number of bedrooms they have; a D house meant for a family of four could have only one bathroom, for example.  Mr. Chang explained, “There needs to be more consideration for square footage and number of bathrooms when determining the category into which a house falls.

Additionally, referring to the housing point system in which a faculty member who lives in a dorm gets three points a year while one who does not only earns two, Mr. Chang said, “We give too many points to people who don’t live in dorms and do duty, so people who are behind point-wise find it difficult to catch up.” To make the process fairer, he believes “giving only one point to those who don’t live in dorms would be better, and faculty members should have to cash in some of their points when they move into a new house.”

Ms. Levesque concluded, “I hope the faculty feels as though the process is clear, transparent, equitable, and that it serves us relatively well. It’s not something that I have received requests to change, but it’s always possible that we can review our processes and make changes. However, there’s nothing major on the rise.”

One Comment

  1. Faculty housing are surrounded by beautiful greenery, and each cluster has its own exclusive setting…The process which you share in it is really admirable…Thanks for sharing…

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