Sept. 20, 2001
Vol. 21 No. 1

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    New resident masters will oversee new Palevsky student residence

    By Carrie Golus
    News Office

    Martin Stokes and his wife, Lucy Baxandall, will serve as the new Resident Masters of the new Max Palevsky Residential Commons
    This fall, Martin Stokes and Lucy Baxandall, new Resident Masters of the Max Palevsky Residential Commons, will share with their first-year students the first-time experience of living in a residence hall.

    As British citizens who attended the University of Oxford, Martin and Lucy have never experienced a student housing system such as the one the University operates, with faculty residents, resident heads and assistants, and a strong sense of communal dormitory life.

    “In Britain, that kind of support system for students doesn’t exist,” Lucy explained. “I think it’s a wonderful idea having faculty and more mature students in the dorm. It’s something that we certainly did not have when we were at university.”

    Martin, an Associate Professor in Music, has taught at the University since 1997. A specialist in ethnomusicology, he is the Administrative Director of the Middle East Ensemble, Javanese Gamelan and the World Music Concert series. Lucy, a certified teacher of French and German, who once ran her own jewelry-making business in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is now a nursery school teacher at K.A.M. Isaiah-Israel. The couple have two children, Catriona, 9, and Sam, 7.

    The two decided to become Palevsky’s first Resident Masters in July, when the building was still under construction. “We just thought, well, why not?” said Martin. “There are some tremendously interesting and exciting aspects of taking up this particular residency. It’s so big, it’s so central, it’s so new.”

    While the audaciously bright and modern Palevsky is certainly different from previous places where Martin and Lucy have lived, they do not imagine the transition will be difficult.

    “The light in Palevsky is so nice. It’s cheerful,” said Lucy. “I think this will be the first time we’ve ever lived in a brand-new building—we’re used to living in older buildings that have been knocked about a bit. That’s part of what is exciting for everyone who’s going to live there. We’re going to be the first people who have that address.”

    Martin added, “It’s growing on me on a daily basis. I’m just dying to see the place full of people. I think it’s going to work very well.”

    Another exciting aspect of their new endeavor, according to Lucy, is that the building doesn’t come with decades of established traditions. “So many of the dorms have traditional activities that they do year after year,” she said. “There’s a precedent set for the resident masters to follow. But with Palevsky, we’re starting from scratch.”

    While traditions will take a while to establish, one programming priority is to take advantage of the many cultural and artistic activities on campus. “We want to capitalize on the position of Palevksy,” said Martin. “It’s so close to Court Theatre, Smart Museum and Mandel Hall, where the University of Chicago Presents has their events.”

    And while Martin and Lucy plan to offer field trips to well-traveled Chicago neighborhoods such as the Loop, they also would like to organize activities closer to home. “We’re quite interested in connecting with the immediate locality,” said Martin. “There are so many things happening so close to us, like the local blues scene, the local gospel scene, the local jazz scene.”

    For Martin and Lucy’s children, the move to Palevsky was not a difficult sell—especially when they heard about the new Bartlett Dining Commons, scheduled to open in January 2002. “They are so looking forward to the eating arrangements,” said Martin. “They’re masters of their own domain, as far as what goes into their stomachs.”

    Lucy added, “I think we’re going to have to set some ground rules, probably. Something green with every meal.” A suggestion she might also want to pass along, gently, to her first-year students.