20 Minutes with Tracey Roberts on faculty newcomer group
Tracey Roberts, assistant professor at the Brandeis School of Law, is new to Louisville and to the University of Louisville.
Margath Walker, assistant professor, geography and geosciences, and John Brannon, CITY Works, PLLC, at Bernheim Forest's CONNECT.
She's started a group called Louisville Faculty and Friends to help newcomers connect with other people in the community. UofL Today recently asked her about the group and herself.
UofL Today: Last year, you were a research affiliate with Vanderbilt University's Climate Change Research Network and held a fellowship with the Searle-Kauffman Institute for Law, Innovation and Growth. Before that, you practiced law in Georgia and Colorado. What brought you to Louisville?
Roberts: I have always wanted to teach law. At the University of
Louisville, I feel that I am in a position to make an important
contribution through my research and teaching to both academia and (hopefully) generations of students, attorneys and policy-makers. It is particularly gratifying to be doing this work back in my home state. I am originally from Franklin, Ky., a small town along the southern border, south of Bowling Green. I was also a member of the Kentucky Bar for nine years, though I practiced law elsewhere.
UofL Today: What is Louisville Faculty & Friends?
Roberts: Louisville Faculty & Friends is a social group designed to integrate faculty into the broader Louisville community, provide informational resources to newcomers, encourage cross-disciplinary and public-private collaboration, and generally have fun in Louisville and surrounds.
UofL Today: Where did the idea originate?
Roberts: My friend, Vanessa Baird, a political science professor at the University of Colorado, created a 'Faculty and Friends' group in Boulder several years ago. It has been wildly successful in helping new faculty and other new arrivals connect with people with similar interests and develop community in Boulder. I've even attended the weddings of several couples who met at a Faculty and Friends Happy Hour!
UofL Today: What is your target membership (who do you want to attend your events)?
Roberts: Ideally, the membership will include any faculty member who'd like to attend and any of their friends or acquaintances. I am hoping to connect this group with a couple of other groups in town that have a similar mission. One is the Greater Louisville International Professionals, and another is New2Lou, a Meetup group.
The main reason to connect is simply to have fun and expand our circle of acquaintance. However, some of the members of New2Lou are involved in downtown redevelopment and planning efforts. They would like to engage with the university, but don't actually know anyone over here. I think that making these kinds of connections could be very fruitful for both Louisville's urban planning efforts and for the university.
UofL Today: What type of activities do you envision?
Roberts: We recently attended the second annual CONNECT at Bernheim Forest, 'a collision of art, music, science and technology' designed to 'open a creative dialogue between artists, scientists, naturalists, lunatics, sutainability advocates and progressive thinkers, all gathered in nature.'
I am currently planning a ghost tour walk in the downtown or Old Louisville area sometime in October, and possibly a bowling night during the winter months.
UofL Today: When is your next event?
Roberts: We are planning to do an apple-picking day at Huber's Orchard at the end of September, possibly with the New2Lou group.
UofL Today: How can people get involved?
Roberts: Everyone should feel free to join our Louisville Faculty & Friends Google group.