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Lovett masters complete tenure

By Michelle Phillips     2/12/09 6:00pm

Lovett College Masters Bernard and Carolyn Aresu will finish their five-year term at the end of this semester. French Studies Professor Bernard Aresu and Carolyn Aresu, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Administrator at the laboratory for nanophotonics, have been working at Rice for 30 years. They also served as masters of Brown College from 1982-'88, staying on an extra year to facilitate its transition from an all-women's college to a co-ed college.

When the Aresus became masters of Lovett five years ago, Hanszen and Baker Colleges were also looking for masters at the same time. Knowing that each college had its own personality, they tried to find the college in which they would best belong, the Aresus said.

"I think what's most wonderful about the college system is ... it's a wonderful sort of intellectual, cultural and social village, and we really cherish that particular aspect of what we do," Bernard Aresu said.

They based their decision on the chemistry they felt with Lovett students, saying they hit it off after having an extraordinary experience with senior Lovett students on a tour of the St. Arnold's Brewery in Houston.

"We were baptized in fire with Lovett culture that night on that bus," Carolyn Aresu said.

Lovett Masters Search Committee Chair Lauren Reyes said the Aresus have a good feel for what Rice students need from college masters.

"They're a great team because they are exact opposites: Carolyn is the organized one; Bernard is all about action and spontaneity, and they bring both those things to the mastership," Reyes, a Lovett sophomore said.

Lovett President Dana Helbling said that the Aresus have encouraged the college to be student-run while still participating in the college's activities and serving as a friendly presence to Lovetteers.

Lovett students will particularly remember the Aresus for their approachability and encouragement of the academics at Lovett, Helbing said.

Oftentimes, the Aresus seemed more like grandparents than faculty members, Reyes said.

However, both students said they are grateful the Aresus have found closure and are looking forward to what is ahead for both of them.

Helbling said that though she was sad to see her masters leave, she was glad that they were getting a long-overdue respite from a difficult job.

"I'm mostly happy for them because they've been here now for their whole five years, and they've done a really splendid job," Hebling, a senior, said. "But I think that it's a really hard position, and they deserve to have a break."

The Aresus said that while they have loved their experience at Lovett, the position of master was also challenging and at times overwhelming, because it required maintaining both the responsibilities they had to their professional careers and their duties to Lovett simultaneously.

"It's quite a juggling act at times," Carolyn Aresu said. "Sometimes an extra set of ears or an extra set of hands would help everybody."

Lovett had exceptional candidates this year, Reyes said. She said she hopes that the new masters will be a strong couple, hardworking and committed to Lovett. Students are also looking forward to meeting the new masters, Helbling said. She also said she believes that the new masters will be received very well.

"It's good for the life of a college to have the masters be in cycles," Kevin Sigerman, the Lovett Masters Search Committee junior representative, said. "I just feel fortunate that they've been here for three years of my college career."

After reviewing all applications for the position, Lovett sent its top two choices to the president to make the final decision. Hebling is confident that they will hear back from President David Leebron regarding the final decision soon.

After giving the new masters time to find their footing for the first semester, the Aresus said they hope to visit Lovett frequently and are looking to becoming associates of Lovett next spring.

"I'll come over to see Lovett's famous facades for the Casino parties," Carolyn Aresu said.

As the Aresus prepare to move on, they most want to be remembered for being a people who are available, approachable, and open-minded, they said.

"If I can be remembered as somebody who made a difference in just small ways, I'll be very happy," Bernard Aresu said.

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