SOC professor now calls Anderson Hall home
Scott Talan is your typical resident of Anderson Hall.
Before moving into the residence hall this semester, he made the obligatory trek to Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond in Columbia Heights. His trip to the Container Store began in earnest with a utilitarian list of key racks and filing cabinets, yet somehow ended with a cart full of utensil containers. He’s the proud new owner of a rice cooker, but more often than not, his diet subsists on cereal and microwaveable meals.
“Cereal is the eating savior — it’s good any time of day,” Talan said. “I try and stay away from the Trix and the Cocoa Puffs in TDR, but it’s hard.”
Other students might sit down next to Talan one day in the Terrace Dining Room, pass him on the way to the Davenport Coffee Lounge or see him in a class in the School of Communication — as the professor.
Though in his third year as a public communications professor at AU, it is Talan’s first time living on campus. He is one of two faculty-in-residence at AU: the other is SOC Professor Joseph Campbell, who has his office and classroom inside McDowell. But it was the founder of AU’s program, former School of International Service Professor John Richardson, that helped spark Talan’s interest in moving on campus. Richardson lived in Anderson for 10 years until 2011 and was famous for his tea time with students and Klondike bar exam breaks at his South side abode.
While still settling in, Talan has already brainstormed ideas, including “Tea with Talan,” field trips into D.C., an anniversary event of President John F. Kennedy’s speech at AU and croquet on the Quad.
Talan also plans on holding career and graduate school advising sessions. His own career path foreshadows the same one many graduating students may follow. He began in the nonprofit sector before serving as a city council member and later mayor of Lafayette, Calif. Talan then moved across California as a news reporter and then worked as a writer for “Good Morning America” before finally entering academia.
“That’s a lot of transitions,” Talan said. “Well, students today will be making many, if not more.”
He’s also immersing himself in the residence halls to understand the mindset of “millennial” students. As a tech-savvy public communications professor developing expertise in social media, he’s interested in how “millennials” use those tools. He noticed that they have less-regimented schedules, working at night and playing during the day.
“If the work’s getting done, you’re satisfying what the person wants to do,” Talan said.
Talan himself has adopted this mindset lately, catching up on some Netflix during his down time.
“I’ve been watching a lot of ‘House of Cards’ late night on Netflix. I’m now into episode 5,” Talan said.
But while the professor holds a major presence on Facebook and Twitter, both in and outside the classroom, he still returns to print for his news. He spreads three papers across the metal table in an Anderson lounge: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
“Even though we have these phones and all the new media — I believe in it and love it — a lot of new media is built upon old media,” Talan said. “I still like to pick up a newspaper. They’re very lightweight. They don’t need to charge or have batteries.”