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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.

Tufts University Proposes a Residential College System

[Tufts University] — A faculty-student committee has proposed a system of residential colleges for Tufts University. Appointed by Tufts president Lawrence Bacow, the eleven-member committee is reviewing the character of the undergraduate experience at Tufts, and the establishment of a residential college system is one of the committee’s principal recommendations.

The creation of a collegiate system at Tufts University would be a source of special pleasure to me. My first experience with residential colleges was as a tutor in Dudley House, one of the thirteen residential colleges at Harvard University. One of the former masters of Dudley House was the noted nutritionist Jean Mayer, and he was the first master to admit graduate students as Dudley House members. I remember meeting him once when he returned to attend a Dudley House function. Mayer had asked himself why the residential college model had spread to so few universities in the United States, given the relatively large number of university faculty who had been trained as graduate students at Harvard. He concluded (rightly) that because the Houses focused so exclusively on undergraduates, a graduate student could spend years in the university and never really see how the House system worked. His motivation in admitting graduate students was not only to offer them the advantages that the Houses provided, but also to expose them to the collegiate model itself in the hope that they would carry it to other institutions. I was a beneficiary of Mayer’s vision in a sense, and the Collegiate Way website is an extension of that hope he expressed those many years ago. Mayer’s next stop? After serving for several years as master of Dudley House he went on to become the tenth president of Tufts University.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2016