Vanderbilt Opens Residential College Planning Website
31 January 2002 (collegiateway.org) — Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, one of the leading private universities in the United States, recently announced its intention to establish a complete system of residential colleges (reported in these pages on 13 November 2001). A planning website for Vanderbilt’s residential colleges has now been opened, and it is an excellent example of the kind of community work that should be done within an institution as a college or collegiate system is being developed. It contains endorsements from the University’s Chancellor, copies of campus reports and news articles about the residential college plans, names of the members of various campus committees that are working on the project, and pointers to external information about residential colleges including, happily, the Collegiate Way website.
Any institution establishing a residential college, and especially a system of colleges, will naturally encounter a measure of criticism and fear, and this is a perfectly normal reaction to any change that seems strange and unfamiliar. The best way to allay these fears is first to be entirely transparent in the planning process (indeed not merely transparent, but actively informative and educational), and second to show by example how other institutions have successfully gone down the same path before—it is not uncharted. Fundamental to the collegiate idea is that all aspects of an institution, from housing to dining to landscaping to plumbing, should all be educational in some way. The process of planning and establishing new colleges should itself be one of the most stimulating and rewarding educational experiences that the members of your university have ever had, and it will be all the more rewarding when they realize that the structures they are establishing will influence the lives of students and faculty for generations to come.
For more ideas on the process of residential college creation pay a visit to the “How To Build a Residential College” page here on the Collegiate Way website.