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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

These news items about residential colleges and the renewal of university life are posted for readers of the Collegiate Way website. To receive an occasional digest of this news please add your name to the monthly Collegiate Way mailing list.

MIT Architecture Essay Proposes Residential Colleges

— The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is in the midst of burst of campus construction, and some of its new buildings are being designed by internationally celebrated architects. In the March 2002 issue of What Matters, the MIT alumni opinion journal, architect and MIT alumnus Jay Weber casts a critical eye on this new construction in his essay “IHTFP: Architecture and Community at MIT.” “My own experience,” Weber writes, “is that while academics and research are alive and well, community is the atrophied third leg to which MIT must energetically attend if it is to maintain and advance its eminence among educational institutions.” Weber asks whether the Institute is paying too much attention to “big names” and not enough to campus planning that seeks “to ascertain how buildings can nurture their inhabitants, support relationships, and provide opportunities for the integration of the inhabitants’ inward selves with the outer world.” He takes note of campus policy adjustments at MIT that are likely to strengthen community, such as requiring all freshmen to live on campus, but doesn’t think they go far enough. “A more meaningful reform might be to adopt a system of residential colleges, such as the one which has evolved over hundreds of years at Oxford, and adopted more recently (1931) by MIT’s Cambridge neighbor, Harvard,” and he points his readers to the Collegiate Way website for more information about the residential college model.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2014