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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.

Collegiate Tip-of-the-Month: An Engraved Gavel

— Pride in one’s college and a sense of collegiate continuity from year to year arises from many small things rather than from any one big thing. Here’s a very simple and inexpensive thing you can do to cultivate this sense of pride and continuity among your residential college members.

Every residential college should have a student council of some kind, with a president or chair, and perhaps other elected officers as well. The presiding officer of any organization ought to have a gavel to call meetings to order, and what better way to illustrate the historical continuity of a college council than by having its gavel engraved from year to year with each president’s name. Most trophy shops or fancy gift shops sell gavels of various sizes equipped with a brass plate suitable for engraving. Get one of these for your college council—I doubt you would have to spend more than $50—and in relatively small print engrave all your council presidents’ names for as far back as your records go. Be sure there is ample space remaining so the students will see that they are links in a chain that will extend beyond them into the future. As the academic year comes to an end and new council officers are elected for the year ahead, hold a passing-of-the-gavel ceremony at your weekly college tea so all we be able to join in gathering from the air this live tradition.

For more recommendations on cultivating the life of a residential college, pay a visit to the Collegiate Way’s page on college life and the annual cycle.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2016