By Andy Brown, College Communications Manager | This article originally appeared on the College’s website.
As University of Chicago College students return to on-campus Housing this fall, two new pairs of Resident Deans will greet them in Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons West (GGRC West) and Snell-Hitchcock Hall, respectively.
Law professors Julie Roin and Saul Levmore are the new Resident Deans in GGRC West. Biologist Nikola and Jovana Sladojevic will assume the same roles in Snell-Hitchcock, after spending the last five years as the Halperin House Resident Heads in GGRC West.
Resident Deans act as stewards for the cluster of Houses they live in, working in tandem with Resident Heads and Resident Assistants to foster community through creative programming and opportunities that connect students with the resources of our campus and city.
“The Resident Dean position is a pillar of the campus housing experience,” said John W. Boyer, Dean of the College. “They sponsor unique spaces for academic and personal development, where students can form relationships with faculty, build confidence and test new ideas, and consider ways to apply their education to the world beyond campus.”
Below, learn more about the professional and academic background that the new Resident Deans brings to their residence halls and what they are most looking forward to in the upcoming school year.
Saul Levmore and Julie Roin, Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons West
The new Resident Deans of GGRC West work right next door at the University of Chicago Law School. Julie Roin is the Seymour Logan Professor of Law and specializes in tax law as well as state and local government law, and Saul Levmore is the William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law and previous Dean of the Law School from 2001 to 2009.
Roin entered the field of law because her father, an alumnus of the College and former resident of Burton-Judson, enjoyed practicing it. After earning her degree from Yale Law School, she began to specialize in tax law, which she has spent much of her career teaching, due to its outsized impact on the shape and operation of the economy and politics.
Levmore became interested in law while earning his PhD in economics at Yale University, where he realized, after meeting with law students, that he found their interests as compelling as the economic models he was studying.
Sensing an opportunity for work in the connections between law and economics, he stayed at Yale to earn his law degree. Exploring this connection, he said, has allowed him to move across various subfields of law and to tie intellectual developments to real world issues.
The couple, who have two children, previously taught at the University of Virginia School of Law before coming to Chicago in the late 1990s. Roin teaches classes in federal income taxation, tax policy, local government law and state and local finance, while Levmore has taught and written about torts, corporations, copyright, non-profit organizations, comparative law, public choice, corporate tax, commercial law, insurance and contracts.
Roin said she is looking forward to arranging intellectually interesting programming accompanied by free food (“a Law School specialty”), and collaborating with Levmore and the Resident Heads to engage with all 400 residents of GGRC West. Roin and Levmore’s programming plans include building a community-wide library of novels, organizing reading groups, holding Friday afternoon decompression sessions with snacks and guest speakers, and more.
“It is a new adventure and a great opportunity to spend time with students,” Levmore said. “Both to have some intellectual influence on them and to be influenced by them.”
For residents of GGRC West and all incoming students to the University, Roin and Levmore said their best advice is to keep an open mind and be prepared to meet people who seem different from you.
“College is all about change,” Roin said. “Be open to new experiences and new points of view. Intellectual and political arguments should be regarded as stimulating learning experiences, rather than threatening.”
“People are full of surprises, and these are usually positive. Don’t worry so much about people liking you as much as you think about how your being open to conversations will make you like them and even like yourself,” Levmore added.
Outside of academics, Roin is passionate about theater, skiing and talking about politics with students. Levmore loves taking students to breakfast at Medici on 57th Street, and discussing his past hobbies of running and squash, and now his “mediocre game of golf.”
Nikola and Jovana Sladojevic, Snell-Hitchcock Hall
Nikola and Jovana Sladojevic came to the U.S. from Serbia in 2009 so that Nikola, a vascular biologist, could pursue a Ph.D. and postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan. When he completed that work in 2014, the couple came to the University of Chicago where Nikola joined the Cardiovascular Research Laboratory.
Jovana is a plant biologist and was an assistant researcher at the Michigan Botanical Garden and Herbarium, while Nikola focused on his research on how small blood vessels respond to stroke, cancer, diabetes and aging. Nikola was recently appointed research assistant professor of medicine while Jovana is studying at Fox College in Bedford Park, Illinois, to become a physical therapist assistant.
Nikola pursued medicine because he enjoyed biology and chemistry from an early age and had grown up with his mother working as a head nurse in a hemodialysis unit. But as a medical student volunteer in a biomedical research center in Serbia, he became interested in genetics and immunology, which influenced him to change his career path from clinical practice to scientific research.
For Jovana, though physical therapy was her top career choice, she elected to study biology and ecology as an undergraduate student, which led her to botany work in Michigan. She stepped away from her career for a few years to help raise the couple’s children, but she says she is “incredibly happy” with her decision to return to school this year.
“This amazing Resident Dean position has allowed me to stay home with my children while contributing to students’ lives and college experiences,” she said. “Being a student again while working in Housing & Residence Life will allow me to empathize more than ever with our residents.”
After five years as Resident Heads in Halperin House, the Sladojevices said they are excited to become a part of a new community at an institution full of “unique people with true intellectual curiosity, passion and empathy.”
“Residents Deans have the unique opportunity to represent and promote the academic, intellectual and cultural values of the University of Chicago,” Nikola and Jovana said. “Being named Resident Deans of a community with abundant traditions and vibrant culture such as Snell-Hitchcock is both a huge honor and a significant challenge. We are excited to help foster a welcoming and creative environment for all present and future students at the University.”
For programming this year, the new Resident Deans of Snell-Hitchcock plan to take students to cultural and sporting events in the city, explore natural areas around Chicago and embark upon boat tours on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Within the residence hall, they plan to host discussions with faculty members, board game nights, trivia and movie nights and catered meals.
Through these events, the Sladojevices aim to provide the residents of Snell-Hitchcock with opportunities to make friends and foster conversations and new connections.
"Introduce yourself, be friendly to everyone you meet and be open to participating in social events,” Nikola and Jovana said. “At UChicago, you can always count on conversations that engage your brain, either in the classroom discussing philosophy or science or at the House table debating if pineapples belong on pizza.”
Together, the couple loves to bake and spend time with their “energetic” kids, eight-year-old Damjan and six-year-old Kosta.