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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

These news items about residential colleges, collegiate houses, and the renewal of university life are posted for readers of the Collegiate Way website. For more about residential colleges and collegiate universities please visit the main Collegiate Way page.

Tip-of-the-Month: Your Website Through the Seasons

— One of the great advantages of cross-sectional residential colleges is that they bring together in one small community the entire range of talents present in a university. One of the prime objectives of the heads of such colleges should be to maintain an environment with many niches where all those talents can be individually expressed. One of the first groups you should always latch on to at the beginning of each academic year is the artists: find out who can draw, paint, sculpt, design, and arrange, and work their abilities into the life of the college. Here’s a simple way to start in these last days of the calendar year: add a seasonal flourish to your college website.

Many websites have a fixed format (which for clarity is always best), but then add slight flourishes according to the seasons of the year; this is a tried and true practice that prevents a feeling of staleness, and enlivens the annual cycle. This week, why not find a student artist in your college and design a seasonal icon (New Year’s, Christmas, Hanukkah, or what you please) to fit into a fixed spot on your website. A version of your coat of arms, say, with a holiday wreath around it, or covered with snow. Save the image for reuse the following year, and as the year progresses, have a different student design a version for as many events or holidays as you wish: Halloween, the Vernal Equinox, Independence Day, Lupercalia … whatever you wish. The seasonal image on your front page can then become a link to a collection of college-related student art, each identified by artist and occasion, and a wonderful sense of ownership and pride will develop among the student artists (who will eagerly show everyone their work on the college website).

If you visit the Collegiate Way website this December, you will see a very modest example: I have added holiday bells to the front page. I have no artistic talent myself, alas, so on my own site I can’t provide a good model. But the real exemplar for this practice is provided by the search engine Google, which has developed a wonderful set of seasonal variations on its standard logo that it uses throughout the year. This should be your model, and the key is to maintain the same basic form while adding special flourishes to it. Show the Google page to a student artist, and begin a tradition of seasonal representations of your college coat of arms this month for the upcoming holidays.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2016