Ryan W. Erck, new Program Director for Impact Living-Learning Center (LLC), wants to make sure that students in the LLC have the kind of community experience that he missed out on when he was a college freshman. Impact LLC, which is a partner of the School of Education, is located in South Russell Hall and is home to 240 Baylor students, both male and female.
Erck said, “Impact LLC creates cohesive spaces for students to have very meaningful interactions with faculty, staff and peers. Residential learning communities embody an experience that provides many campus amenities in one place. Impact LLC reflects the larger campus culture, but on a micro-scale — encompassing things like study areas, fitness spaces, technology areas and classrooms.”
As a college freshman, Erck chose to hold down a job while attending school and didn’t take advantage of a residential community, he said. He earned his BS in Leadership and Development and his MS in Educational Human Resource Development, both from Texas A&M University. Erck is now a doctoral candidate pursuing a PhD in Higher Education Studies and Leadership in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership. Despite these obvious accomplishments, Erck said that his chances for success would have been better if he had lived in an intentional community during his early college experience, and he suggests that students look for this kind of experience when exploring housing options during the college application process.
Erck’s doctoral research focuses on how social, academic, and deeper life interactions affect college student success, specifically in residential learning communities on college campuses. An LLC brings together all three types of interactions in one place, he said, and he hopes his doctoral studies can lead to ways of improving the LLC experience.
“Working with the Impact students will give me a greater perspective on how my research plays out on the ground level and comes alive from the data I’ve studied,” Erck said. “Being surrounded by students and working in this community will allow me to witness more than the qualitative components I know and will better my understanding.”
Dr. Susanne Nesmith, SOE Associate Dean and Associate Professor, said Erck stood out among applicants because of his experiences working with student-athlete services and transfer students, his understanding of the complex structure of Campus Living & Learning, and his distinct research that fit perfectly into the position. Before accepting the position, Erck also spent a year lecturing fulltime in the SOE’s Department of Educational Leadership. Erck is only the second Impact LLC Program Director since its founding in 2015.
“We had incredible applicants, and Ryan just rose to the top,” Nesmith said. “He brings teaching experience along with his other credentials, and he has a passion for making the on-campus student experience at Baylor a positive, powerful experience.”
Erck wants incoming Impact LLC freshmen to know that it’s OK to feel like a newbie. “During your first year of college, you don’t know the campus culture, and you don’t always know what you’re doing,” he said. “But living with hundreds of other people going through the same thing is going to be an awesome experience.”
—By Cameron Bocanegra
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For more than 100 years Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education professionals, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.