Ryan Erck, Program Director of the Impact Living-Learning Center (LLC), received the Student Advocate of the Year Award from the Baylor Division of Student Life. Impact LLC is a residential learning community located in South Russell Hall and founded by the School of Education in 2015 in partnership with Campus Living and Learning. As a Baylor SOE staff member collaborating with Campus Living and Learning, Erck is responsible for the recruitment, marketing, admissions, and programming for Impact LLC.
According to the 2020 Baylor Student Life Staff Awards virtual ceremony, the Student Advocate Award recognizes “a staff or faculty member who works outside the Division of Student Life but who helps us significantly accomplish our work in students’ lives.” Erck received the award after his first year in Impact LLC.
“Each year, we identify those staff members who have served so well, above and beyond what they’ve been called to do,” said Dr. Kevin Jackson, Vice President for Baylor Student Life in announcing the award, noting that Erck was nominated with “glowing recommendations.”
While working within the Impact LLC, Erck was also studying his own work. As a PhD student in Higher Education Studies and Leadership in Baylor’s SOE’s Department of Educational Leadership, Erck conducted dissertation research focused on how interactions between students and faculty on campus can affect student success. Because of the intentional connections fostered in the LLC, Erck’s research related significantly to his LLC work. Erck successfully defended his dissertation this summer and will graduate in August.
In his research, Erck looked at success based on five different measures that collectively represent a students’ ability to thrive — academic determination, engaged learning, social connectiveness, diverse citizenship, and positive perspective. In all of these areas except social connectiveness, Erck found that the amount of “deeper life interactions” between students and faculty or staff members was the strongest predictor of success. For social connectiveness, students thrived more when experiencing deeper life interaction with their peers.
Erck said deeper life interactions are significant connections surrounding meaning, value, and purpose in someone’s life. They involve asking the “big questions” concerning things such as a student’s faith. Erck said that Baylor’s model for living learning communities can effectively foster these interactions between students and staff or faculty members and can boost a student’s success.
Erck said results from his research gave him a stronger sense of appreciation for the work that he gets to do within Impact LLC.
“These communities are the best spaces on college campuses for faculty, staff and students to be together in one place,” Erck said.
Along with other Baylor faculty and staff preparing for the upcoming school year with new challenges, Erck is working hard within the LLC to develop new ways to safely maintain these interactions that mean so much for a student’s success. As students come to campus and are told to avoid close interactions, Erck and other members of living-learning communities are thinking creatively about future event planning. While some traditional events can be transitioned to online activities, there are some that are simply unfeasible to recreate, Erck said, so the staff will look for new ideas.
One such idea in the works is a monthly book club for students. Books will be chosen that follow the “impact” theme, helping students learn about themselves and society.
While concerned about the negative effects that can be caused by a lack of interaction in these uncertain times, Erck is still looking forward to the ways LLC leaders will continue to support Baylor student life as a whole.
Proving he truly deserves his recent award (and his doctoral degree), Erck maintains a strong determination to “continue to serve in the best way for our students.”
ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, leaders in K12 and higher education, psychologists, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the schoolâ€™s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylorâ€™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. Visit www.baylor.edu/soe to learn more.
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.