On Tuesday, College Housing and Residential Services announced the Resident Masters who will join Campus North Residential Commons and International House (I-House) beginning in fall 2016. Two new Resident Masters will be succeeding Scott and Laura Stern in I-House, while four Resident Masters will move into Campus North in its inaugural year.
Steven Rings, an associate professor of music theory and chair of the Society of Fellows, which focuses on liberal arts teaching and scholarship, and Gretchen Rings, a reference and interlibrary loan librarian at the Field Museum, will be Resident Masters in Campus North. They have two sons.
“Not only is community very important to us as a family, we also look forward to fostering that sense of community within the residence halls—to make them a genuine home away from home. The opportunity to do that while at the same time bringing the intellectual life of the University into the residence halls excites me very much,” Steven Rings said.
Rings, a music professor currently working on a book about Bob Dylan, hopes to organize trips to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and evenings to listen to and discuss classic records from a range of genres. The Rings family also plans to work closely with the nearby Smart Museum and Court Theatre and invite some of Gretchen Rings’ colleagues at the Field Museum to speak to students.
“It’s so exciting to be moving into a new residence hall, which gives us an opportunity both to develop new traditions and to incorporate traditions from the four houses that will be moving into the new hall. We will have a range of new and returning students, and we very much look forward to developing Campus North’s culture with them,” Steven Rings said.
James Evans, an associate professor of sociology, director of the Knowledge Lab, and a senior fellow at the Computation Institute, and Jeannie Evans, a trial lawyer and founding partner of Agrawal Evans LLP, will also be Resident Masters in Campus North. They have four children.
“We are excited about living right in the middle of the campus community, sharing our lives, play, and work with the students of the University, and helping to build an environment where recreation, intellect, activity, and organizing will all mix together, stimulating and enriching each other,” James Evans said.
The Evans family plans to organize events around themes of connection and innovation by inviting artists, entrepreneurs, politicians, and professors to speak and engage with their students. They also hope to support student-organized nonprofits, ventures, and technologies, drawing on their own experience starting a business.
“[Campus North’s] unique architecture, the communal spaces and views, proximity to the art museum, theater, and gyms, and direct access to the wonderful Washington Park, in addition to its natural connection to the University make this an environment that reaches out beyond campus, while still remaining within it,” James Evans said.
Craig Futterman, a clinical professor at the Law School and campaigner against police abuses, and Kenyatta Futterman, the youth program coordinator for the Department of Safety and Security’s Office of Risk Management and a former academic adviser in the College, will be Resident Masters in I-House. They have two daughters.
“We relish the opportunities to get to know students outside of the classroom and clinical settings and have the kinds of informal supportive conversations that might not otherwise occur. We are particularly honored to become a part of the International House community. We are different in I hope the good sense of the word. As a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith family, we hope to build a home that is welcoming to all students,” Craig Futterman said.
The Futterman family will work with I-House students to preserve old traditions and create new events and programs.
Though he is excited to be a Resident Master, Craig Futterman objects to the title “master,” which has been the center of controversy at universities with similar roles because of its associations with slavery. Last December, House Masters at Harvard unanimously agreed to change their title.
“I have real discomfort with the title for obvious reasons, particularly given who we are. I hope to engage the administration and broader campus community in fuller conversations about what we call our faculty residents. Folks can simply call us: ‘Kenyatta, Alijah, Asha, Craig, and Tuffy,’” said Craig Futterman.
Campus North was designed to house 800 students in part in order to be large enough to accommodate Resident Masters, which the four closing residence halls are too small to do. In the long term, the University plans to strengthen the Resident Master model and house more undergraduate students on campus.