Luis Duno-Gottberg’s tenure as Baker magister got off to a stormy start. When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday, Aug. 25, he had only been the college’s magister for about three weeks.
“It's quite a start to be starting in the position of having a tragedy of this magnitude,” Duno-Gottberg said
In times of an emergency like a hurricane, the life of a magister can be difficult. In addition to making sure their own families are safe, magisters work with university leadership to ensure there is safe housing, food and water to sustain the entire student population of the college. Duno-Gottberg said that the experience was exhausting, but he was impressed by the college’s ability to “come together immediately.”
“It's challenging because we have to take care of a bunch of people, but when those people are engaged and help take care of themselves and everybody else, it works,” Duno-Gottberg said.
Now that the immediate threat from Harvey has passed, Duno-Gottberg is settling into his role as magister alongside his wife, Angela Duno, and his five children. She is working towards a degree in nursing, while Duno-Gottberg holds a number of faculty positions on campus. He is an associate professor of Caribbean and film studies, as well as the department chair for Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies.
The Duno-Gottbergs are excited to live in the Baker magister house, but they’ll miss their old house’s porch, which overlooked the Houston skyline, and being close to coffee and pastries at Weights and Measures cafe. Their new living room is decorated with old Latin American film posters, where Duno-Gottberg answered questions with his baby son on his hip.
This is not the first time that Duno-Gottberg has been on a college’s adult team. When Duncan was founded, he was first a resident fellow and then the college’s first magister. As a resident fellow, he lived in “Ba-Dunc,” which was the building that would become Duncan College. “Ba-Dunc” was populated by a combination of 70 Duncan freshmen and a group of Baker students who stayed there while Baker College was being renovated in 2009. The next year, Duncan College was fully populated by Duncan students and Duno-Gottberg became magister. That connection with Baker partly informed his decision to apply to be a magister this past year.
Overall, Baker felt like a good fit.
“When we interviewed, it felt like we were dancing with the best dance partner ever,” Duno-Gottberg said.
Duno-Gottberg thinks one of the advantages of the residential college system, and the adult team system in particular, is the number of interactions students can have with professors outside of the classroom. He envisions casually discussing news and politics with Baker students. On Sep. 2, the magisters invited 20 Baker students to their house to cook a paella and “think about Spain and traditions of that kind.” They’d like to do something similar in the future with Indian food.
“Of course it’s feeding people, but it’s feeding people’s stomachs and their brains and their souls,” Duno-Gottberg said.
Baker President Natalie Swanson approves of Duno-Gottberg’s efforts to encourage student-adult team interaction with events like the Spanish food dinner.
“Luis has been a wonderful addition to the Baker community,” Swanson said. “He and his family open their home to Bakerites with scheduled and unscheduled events around meals, amazing coffee, and conversations.”
The Duno-Gottbergs take on their new role as the first cohort of magisters with the new title. Until this year, magisters were called masters.
“Thinking that a change in the word will do away with the more entrenched legacies of racism and so forth that would be naive,” Duno-Gottberg said. “I'm glad that we changed the name, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be alert to the times we're living in.”
After being a magister at Duncan and then living off campus for several years, Duno-Gottberg is taking time to get to know Baker.
“Baker is like one of those matryoshkas, those Russian dolls. It has many layers, and I'm still discovering,” Duno-Gottberg said.