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Campus Life

Cooking up community at Warren Towers

Karen Jacobs offers a home away from home

On any given Monday evening, the aroma of potato latkes, fried samosas, or pad thai wafts through the sixth floor of C Tower at Warren Towers, luring every student within smelling distance. 

The tempting scents come from the kitchen of Warren Towers resident Karen Jacobs, a Sargent College clinical professor of occupational therapy. Jacobs is one of 14 professors living in dorms around campus as part of the Faculty-in-Residence Program, which is designed, as she puts it, “to allow students and faculty to get to know each other outside of the classroom, in a more informal and relaxed atmosphere.”

Jacobs, a Sargent professor since 1983, was living in Andover in 2004 when she heard two colleagues discuss the Faculty-in-Residence Program. She was enthusiastic about joining the program from the beginning, she says, and she moved in that fall.

“It was one of those aha moments,” Jacobs says. “It sounded like a wonderful experience.” Plus, because her youngest daughter was about to enroll in the University Professors Program, she says, “it just made sense to be on campus.”

Now, every Monday from 7 to 10 p.m., students are invited over to her place to help cook, and of course, eat, whatever is served, which could be just about anything. Jacobs lives on Warren’s international floor, and the cooking, often done in conjunction with a holiday or a movie night, reflects that diversity — making sushi to celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival or cooking samosas in conjunction with a viewing of Bend It Like Beckham. Students also stop by in search of a quiet place to read or to plop down on one of Jacobs’ comfy couches to talk about adjusting to college life.

“We talk about day-to-day life on a large campus,” Jacobs explains. “How do you balance classwork? How do you balance time with friends? Just everyday things that you might stop by a friend’s house and discuss over a cup of tea.”   

Jacobs has also organized outings to Cape Cod, and true to her calling, helped students ergonomically arrange their computer desk spaces.   

“I think for many of these students, because their family is so far away, it’s a nice haven for them,” she says. Nevertheless, she emphasizes that her door is open to any BU student, not just those on her floor. “On the days when there’s something cooking, I have kids coming from all over campus,” she says. “I’ve made the apartment like a real home.”