Faculty living on-campus isn't a thing everywhere.

At SMU, you get the unique experience of sharing life with faculty. Faculty-in-Residence (FiRs) contribute to academic life and culture in each of our 11 Residential Commons (RCs). Faculty-in-Residence live in our RCs, form strong connections with the residents, and are integral academic and community leaders. Faculty-in-Residence bridge the classroom experience by hosting regular conversations over a meal with students, inviting and hosting guest speakers, organizing and hosting community events and trips to landmarks of cultural, historical, and social significance in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Learn more about our FIRs and their families who contribute to the vibrancy of campus life on the Hilltop.

Willie Baronet

Willie Baronet

Faculty-in-Residence, Armstrong Commons

"I am passionate about creativity, self expression, and encouraging my students to be themselves. I am curious, optimistic and a good listener, and want to help my students connect with what they are deeply passionate about. My WE ARE ALL HOMELESS project has taught me much about myself, and has informed one of my favorite assignments in Intro to Creativity, the DESIGN YOUR OWN LEGACY project. My hope is to bring all of me to my FiR role at Armstrong Commons."

Willie Baronet was the owner/creative director of GroupBaronet from 1992-2006. His design and advertising work has been featured in Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, New York Art Directors, The One Show, The Type Directors Club and Annual Report Design: A Historical Retrospective 1510-1990, organized by the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design. Willie is currently the Stan Richards Professor in Creative Advertising at SMU's Temerlin Advertising Institute, where he teaches classes related to creativity and portfolio development, and is the Faculty in Residence at Armstrong Commons.

In 2013 he was given the AIGA Fellow award, the highest honor an AIGA chapter can bestow upon one of its members. He has spoken to dozens of business and creative organizations, including TEDx, AIGA, and the HOW Design Conference. Willie has been buying and collecting homeless signs since 1993 as part of a long term art project "WE ARE ALL HOMELESS." He was the subject of the documentary "Signs of Humanity" (on Amazon Prime), which has been in film festivals across the US and in Australia. The project has been featured in dozens of international and local media, including Yahoo! News, NPR - All Things Considered, The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera America and Fast Company’s blog, posted by Katie Couric. An UpWorthy video about the project has been viewed over 6.4 million times.

His art installations have been featured in exhibits including “Art as a Medium for Action” at Hoxton Arches, London and Pembroke College, Cambridge, “Truth to Power” in Philadelphia in conjunction with the 2016 Democratic National Convention (which also featured Banksy and Shepard Fairey among others), and in cities across the U.S. from New York to Anchorage, AK. Willie studied Advertising Design at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and graduated with an MFA in Arts and Technology from UTD in 2011.

He has taught Advertising Design at Brookhaven Community College, Texas A&M at Commerce, TCU, and has served as visiting faculty for the MA Program at Syracuse University.   Willie is currently the Stan Richards Professor in Creative Advertising at SMU's Temerlin Advertising Institute, where he teaches classes related to creativity and portfolio development, and is the Faculty-in-Residence at Armstrong Commons.

Jack Levison

Dr. Jack Levison

Faculty-in-Residence, Boaz Commons

"As a kid, I wanted to be an architect. Then I wanted to be a pilot. So what did I decide to do? To become a professor because, on my first day of class as a college freshman, I was mesmerized by my Greek teacher, who undid in about ten minutes just about everything I thought was rock solid. It was a thrill—the thrill of discovery. And I want to be part of the discovery that SMU students experience, whether we are sitting around Priscilla’s and my dinner table or on the front porch or in the lounge or under the shade of trees. There is so much to discover in life, in friends, in books, and especially in challenges. If life is about discovery, I feel like I’ve struck gold, and I’d like to be there with students as they make their own discoveries."

Jack Levison is a long way from his native Long Island, so he pretends, when he rides his bike, that White Rock Lake is the Atlantic Ocean. He doesn’t have to pretend that he takes enormous pleasure in the company of his wife, Priscilla, or that living tooth to jowl with students is an exciting venture he never could have imagined when he was a college freshman himself. Jack has taught at colleges from coast to coast—from Durham, North Carolina, to Seattle, Washington—and he currently holds the W.J.A. Power Chair in Perkins School of Theology at SMU. Both of Priscilla and Jack’s adult children, Chloe and Jeremy, are SMU grads, and he imagines they’ll be lured back occasionally for Sunday Night Snacks or to sit under the beautiful trees that welcome Boazies home.

Maria del Pilar Melgarejo

Dr. Maria del Pilar Melgarejo

Faculty-in-Residence, Cockrell-McIntosh Commons

"I believe connecting with others is what lights up our spirit because it is a beautiful way to discover who we are and what we are capable of. Through heartfelt connections it is possible to create, transform and grow."

María del Pilar Melgarejo is passionate about creating heartfelt connections. She firmly believes there is no limit if the heart is at the center of whatever you dream of.  Born and raised in her beloved country of Colombia, she holds a PhD in Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, M.A. in Philosophy and a B.A. in Social Communication and Journalism. She worked as a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee for seven years, and she arrived at SMU in 2013. Dr. Melgarejo and her husband, Dr. Ruben Sanchez–Godoy, teach Latin American Literature and Culture and Spanish at the Department of World Languages and Literatures. They both enjoy creating a meaningful experience for students on campus. 

Her spirited 13-year-old son, Antonio, and her creative 8-year-old daughter, Violeta, are thrilled to meet her new college friends. María del Pilar published a book on Literature and Politics in Mexico and Colombia and has several articles about literature, cinema and culture. She worked in Colombia in Human Rights and in 2020 got a certification in Life Coaching. She is passionate about wellbeing and finding a balance between mind, body and heart. She enjoys playing the ukelele, eating great food, dancing, reading fiction and non-fiction, attending music concerts, traveling and hiking. She is honored to be part of the Commons and share her passions with the students. She does believe sharing with others is food for the soul.

Leanne Ketterlin Geller

Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller

Faculty-in-Residence, Crum Commons

"I am excited to begin my role as the faculty-in-residence for Crum Commons. I am passionate about my family and my work. My family and I enjoy traveling, experiencing new cultures, and spending time outdoors. We love cooking and eating good food, playing games and laughing, and having new adventures. We also strive for balance and personal wellbeing."

Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller, her husband Josh Geller, and their son Zachary joined the Crum Commons in 2020 as the Faculty- and Family-in-Residence, respectively. Native to the central coast of California, they moved to Texas in 2009 and love being part of the SMU community. You’ll often find them cheering on the Mustangs sports teams, attending dance concerts and other student-led performances, or enjoying a walk around the beautiful SMU campus. As a family, they love cooking and eating good food, playing games and laughing, and spending time outdoors, including hiking, biking, and taking long walks. To quench their wanderlust, they are always looking forward to their next trip where they enjoy engaging in cultural exchanges, exploring natural and ancient wonders, and experiencing new adventures.

As Leanne begins her appointment as FiR, she is excited to engage with the Crum Commons community. She is a professor in the department of Education Policy and Leadership and holds the Texas Instruments Chair in Education in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. She is passionate about her work in promoting equity and inclusive learning environments in mathematics and STEM education in K-12 settings. She gains energy by helping people reach their goals, including mentoring students and emerging scholars. She likes to roll up her sleeves to come up with innovative solutions to pressing problems. Her positive attitude permeates throughout her life and serves to ground her in a “glass half-full” perspective.

Like Leanne, Josh works in the field of educational research in the Simmons School. Among his passions and pursuits, Josh is a compassionate listener, the culinary rock star of the family, and a practitioner of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. In the Crum patio, look for him tending the garden, taking photographs, or trying another clever invention to keep the squirrels from the bird feeders. Zachary is proudly Gen Z but loves alt-new wave 80s music like his parents. He is quick to laugh, passionate about saving the planet, loves movie night, and is dedicated to pursuing his goals as a competitive swimmer. They are proud puppy parents to a cockapoo named Chewbacca (affectionately known as Chewie). If you need a snuggle or to play a game of fetch, Chewie will be there for you!

Most importantly, Leanne and Josh hope to create an environment that provides a safe space for every member of the Crum community to be themselves, explore ways to grow both personally and intellectually, and meaningfully add to every students’ SMU experience.

Daniele Forlino

Dr. Daniele Forlino

Faculty-in-Residence, Kathy Crow Commons

"As the youngest of nine kids, and having been an international student, I understand both the challenges and wonderful opportunities of living with students in a large, loud, diverse environment and I look forward to serving the Kathy Crow Community."

Daniele Forlino is a lecturer of Italian and serves as the Area Chair for the Italian Program. His partner, Dr. Aria Cabot is the director of the World Languages and Literatures Teaching and Technology Center at SMU.

They, along with their two children, Sofia (6 years old) and Rocco (almost 1) are thrilled to become part of the Kathy Crow family, and are eager to contribute to the intellectual enrichment of its community.

Justin Germain

Justin Germain

Faculty-in-Residence, Loyd Commons

"I want my daughter to see the value of an examined life. What better way than having her live among undergraduates who are actually doing the work I hope she will undertake as she grows? The old proverb rings in my mind, it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that is true, and more ardently believe that the culture of the village in which a child is raised matters. SMU is an amazing village."

Justin comes to his FiR position as both an SMU alum, having completed his master’s here at SMU, and as a veteran, having served in the US Air Force and Air Force reserves for 7 years total. He comes to SMU with his five-year-old daughter, Elora, and dog Diana.

Justin began his academic journey at the University of North Texas, receiving his bachelor’s in history in 2004. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. He then completed a master’s at OU while serving active duty at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. While in the Air Force, he led deployments to Curaçao, Montevideo, and the UK. Following his time in the military, Justin began work on his master’s at SMU. His time studying under the illustrious Patricia Rawlins, Melissa Dowling, and the late Jeremy Adams were the two most transformative experiences in his life prior to becoming a father. Later, he joined WorldTeach and went international again, living in the Amazon Rain Forest in Tena Ecuador, teaching English and learning Spanish. After teaching Latin for three years at Live Oak Classical School in Waco, Texas, he began his PhD studies at Indiana University. Justin is so happy to be back on the SMU campus and sees the FIR position as an opportunity to live out the classical examples of Aristotle and Epicurus. 

You can often find Elora riding her bike (on training wheels) around the commons and telling students “Hi” as they pass. She loves Elsa, Ninja Turtles, and taking Diana on walks with her daddy. She has completely taken to living on campus and loves to “teach” in the Loyd Commons classroom after hours. Her students include her daddy, her Ninja Turtle toys, and all her mermaids. Diana has also soaked up all the attention of her new home and hasn’t met a resident yet whose lap she wouldn’t jump into given half the chance.

When Justin isn’t teaching or spending time with his daughter, you can find him in the Dedman student center working out, writing, trying to learn piano and jiu jitsu, and reading Greek. He hopes to be for his residents in Loyd what so many of his mentors have been for him over the years: encouraging others to reach their full human potential by living the examined life in public.

Ashley Stone

Dr. Ashley Stone

Faculty-in-Residence, McElvaney Commons

"I have been excited about the faculty-in-residence program since it was first being dreamed up at SMU and am so grateful to finally have an opportunity to take on this role. I am really looking forward to helping all of the McElvaney residents find their home in the Commons and at SMU and can’t wait to learn from and alongside everyone in the community."

Ashley Stone was born and raised in rural northeast Texas, which inspires her research on critical understandings of place and rural students in higher education.

Prior to earning her Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin and transitioning into a faculty role she served as the Director of New Student Orientation and Student Support here at SMU. After spending three years on faculty at George Washington University, she jumped at the opportunity to return to the Hilltop as a Clinical Assistant Professor in Higher Education.

Returning to Dallas has also meant being closer to home and having more time to spend being “Aunt Sassy” to her nieces and nephews and getting to be the loudest cheerleader at their little league games. She also had the joy of bringing home her pup, Margot Mae, this past October and knows Margot is also going to love walks around campus and welcoming all of the residents back to McElvaney.

In her free time she enjoys traveling, or when she can’t get away, exploring the world through new recipes in the kitchen. She is excited to bring these culinary adventures home to the Commons. Ashley’s research explores how the places we live can shape who we are and can’t wait to meet all of the residents, learn about the places they are from, and help them make SMU and McElvaney Commons home.

Alberto Pastor

Dr. Alberto Pastor

Faculty-in-Residence, Mary Hay, Peyton, Shuttles Commons

"Being a FiR will allow me to partake in energizing conversations and academic exchanges with students, and engage in social events in which I can contribute to the students’ personal growth and to the society at large by bringing my area of expertise on multilingual societies to the Commons."

A native of Madrid (Spain), Alberto Pastor has taught linguistics at SMU since 2005. His research interests are linguistic theory and sociolinguistic issues related to Spanish in the United States such as language contact, language ideologies and attitudes, and linguistic landscapes. In his classes and personal life, he tries to serve as an advocate for multilingualism and multiculturalism in the society at large. Along with his wife Martha, and their son Alejandro, they are thrilled to continue the diversity values and traditions of HPMS Commons, and to be part and foster this community.

Debra Branch

Dr. Debra Branch

Faculty-in-Residence, Morrison-McGinnis Commons

"I am excited to be part of the FIR tradition at SMU. Students are the reason I relish teaching, and I hope to repay all of the incredible life lessons I've learned from my students over the years.  Young people are a gift.  To grow and thrive, they must be nurtured and supported both inside and outside of the classroom.  And, as a FIR, I am honored to be a small part of this process."

Debra Branch is a eighth-generation Texan, born in the border town of Eagle Pass and raised in the Piney Woods of East Texas. She received her BA at the University of Texas at Austin and her MA at the University of Oklahoma, both in Sociology. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at the Ohio State University, where she specialized in gender and racial inequality in the workplace.

Dr Branch has lived and traveled extensively in the U.S.; She loves the outdoors, especially the Mountain West, and is an avid environmentalist. Her favorite hobbies include travelling, skiing, hiking, biking, and paddle-boarding. She has 25 years of college teaching experience and has won teaching awards at every university where she has taught.

Dr. Branch is a senior lecturer in Sociology for Dedman College and has been at SMU since 2007, where she teaches courses in the Sociology and Markets and Cultures majors. Her courses include Research Methods, Environmental Sociology, Constructed Social Identities, Social and Economic Development, Sport and Society, and Contemporary Issues in the American Southwest.

Dr Branch has won several campus honors at SMU, including the prestigious Provost’s Teaching Award. In addition, she teaches regularly at SMU-in-Taos, and has taken students to Cuba as part of the SMU in Havana/Miami abroad program. She is the SMU Faculty-in-Residence for Morrison-McGinnis Residential Commons.

Dr. Debra Branch and her wife, Molly, have served as the Faculty-in-Residence (FiR) family in Morrison-McGinnis Commons since 2020.  The Branches are excited to share their lives and experiences with the students, and look forward to carrying on the great traditions, such as MoMac at the movies, while creating new opportunities for all in the MoMac family to connect and bond together. Is anyone up for a snowball fight? The MoMac spirit is strong with the Branches!  They open up their home on Sunday nights for snacks (MoMac and cheese anyone?) and shows and love attending SMU events with their students. Go Ponies! When the Branches aren’t cheering on their students, you can often find them walking campus with their pups, Bean, Picasso, and Hank.

One of the founding symbols of MoMac is the torch, representing the development of character through helping others, and Deb and Molly believe that the best way to build lasting relationships is through community service.  As a Sociologist and the MoMac FIR, Deb loves to engage students with the larger Dallas community, whether it’s environmental justice or helping homeless youth.  Both Deb and Molly believe some of the best life learning opportunities happen outside of the classroom and strive to foster a sense of engagement, mentorship, and belonging among the MoMac community.

Deb and Molly consider themselves the “fun aunts” of MoMac.  Whether it’s attending a MoMac-er’s dance recital, hosting dinners, or just lending a hand, hug, or ear, Deb and Molly are always right there on the first-floor. Molly loves to host and cook, and Deb loves to talk and eat!  And, watch out for Deb and her camera as she loves taking and posting pictures of her MoMac family!  Isn’t that what aunts are for?

Carol Dickson Carr

Dr. Carol Dickson-Carr

Faculty-in-Residence, Virginia-Snider Commons

"My family and I are off the beaten path, and I mean that in a good way since I heard through the grapevine that Virginia-Snider’s motto is to ‘Keep VS weird.’ Self-acceptance wasn’t always a familiar concept when I was younger. Still, over the years, I learned that as long as we are authentically our BEST selves, the possibilities are endless. I’d rather the residents I meet learn this sooner rather than later--that most things are possible with discipline, integrity, passion, a little luck, FUN, and determination. And mentoring!"

Carol Dickson-Carr, AKA Prof DC (Professor of Practice and appointed Faculty-in-Residence beginning Fall 2021), her daughter Maya (SMU Class of ’22 and Psych Major), and her husband, Darryl (SMU Professor of English and outgoing department Chair), are excited to join and serve the Virginia-Snider Commons community. They love music, food, and lively discussion that centers on making the community, and by extension, the world a better place.

Carol’s undergraduate and graduate degrees are in economics. She has a Six Sigma Greenbelt and received training at the Graduate School of Coaching at Coachville and Coaching from Spirit Institute. Before moving to Dallas in 2007, she worked in the private sector, calculating economic damages for an employment litigation firm for six years. She was a legislative analyst for the House Finance and Tax Committee at the Florida Legislature for a little over five years. She started as an adjunct lecturer at SMU, teaching the economic principles courses in January 2007 and life coaching outside SMU. Ten years later, she was promoted to Professor of Practice when the Associate Dean of Dedman College discovered her other skills and could take over for the Business Writing professor who retired in 2017 and teach spreadsheet literacy to the college’s students.

Carol has an immense passion for music and movement for any shape, size, or age. These activities started as hobbies for her sanity, but she’s loved music from infancy; her mom said she was humming recognizable tunes at nine months before she could talk! She has had private vocal and piano students for almost nine years and has also taught dance fitness and Pilates at 24 Hour Fitness since the spring of 2017. This eclectic skill set positions her to continue the great work Dr. Ann has accomplished and potentially add new traditions to this community. The Dickson-Carrs look forward to bringing a combination of warmth, empathy, fun, real talk, humor (Maya is the natural comedian, though!), mentoring, and culinary skills (while Carol can cook…Darryl can COOK)! Carol is committed to channeling her collaborative nature with Res Life so students feel heard, understood, unstoppable, and intellectually challenged.

Andrew Graybill

Dr. Andrew Graybill

Faculty-in-Residence, Ware Commons 

Andy was drawn to the Faculty-in-Residence position from the moment he arrived on the Hilltop in 2011 because his own experience living in a residential college was the defining aspect of his undergraduate career. Andy has been eager to cultivate the same kind of welcoming community in Ware Commons as a home-within-a-home at SMU, embracing all residents. In his academic work, Andy is at the trailhead of a new book project about the Texas longhorn, through which he hopes to tell a new story about the Lone Star State during the nineteenth century.

His daughter Fiona is a sophomore at SMU who lives in MHPS. Her chief interests are politics, music (more listening than playing), and crossword puzzles. She loves the Bravo TV series “Below Deck” (don’t ask). Gavin is a ninth grader at the Alcuin School, who enjoys Spanish and especially his gaming console (alas). Rounding out the crew are the “Ware Woofs”—Evie and Frida (aka “Tiny Dog” or just “TD”), who are not much to look at but adored all the same. They are available for walks (as are the kids).

Andy knew he had big shoes to fill when he succeeded Tom and Jeanne Tunks, the first—and deeply beloved—FiR family of Ware Commons. He has thus kept alive many of the traditions pioneered by the Tunks, including the Sunday night Salon, which features delicious nibbles (as well as the occasional special guest). And like the Tunks, Andy has loved working closely with the Ware family on making our Commons the place “Ware” everyone belongs …