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Murray State’s Residential Colleges at Ten

Murray State University established a complete residential college system in 1996, one of the first at a public university in the United States. The MSU collegiate system continues to flourish ten years later, as this report in today’s Murray State News tells us.

Residential colleges turn 10

You can talk about their age, just don’t call them dorms

It’s been 10 years since the word “dorm” was dropped from the Murray State vernacular and replaced with “residential college.”

Residential colleges began in the United States at Yale and Harvard universities, who borrowed the idea from Oxford and Cambridge universities in England.

Murray State holds the distinction of being the first public university in the United States to launch a successful comprehensive residential college program.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the residential colleges have made a significant impact on the University over the past decade.

“As you get bigger, you become less personal,” Robertson said. “The residential colleges allow us to stay in touch, allow students to get involved and faculty to interact. The residential colleges are very important because they focus on the students and allow us to personalize our services with the students.”

Robertson said the next decade looks bright for the residential colleges.

He said the focus will be on connecting academic affairs with the residential colleges. More programs will be created to allow commuter students to participate and feel more connected to campus.

Robertson said the Residential College Association decided to celebrate the anniversary to reflect on where the colleges have been and where they are going, while appreciating those who got them to this point.

Bonnie Higginson, residential college head of White College, said a banquet is being hosted Oct. 10 for those who worked with the residential colleges in the past and present college contributors.

Everyone from those who began investigating and organizing the residential colleges to those who are current residential college council officers are invited to celebrate the anniversary, Higginson said.

Two hundred people are expected to attend.

“It’s a celebration of the past, present and future of residential colleges,” Higginson said.

A committee composed of past and present members of the Residential College Association has been planning the banquet for several months and also arranged for the residential colleges to have individual tents during Tent City before the Homecoming game Oct. 14.

Higginson said she hopes the alumni that attend homecoming will visit their old residential college tent.

The anniversary is also significant to current students.

Heather Stroupe, senior from Radcliff, Ky., said residential colleges enable students to intermingle with students from other grades, majors and backgrounds while building an environment in which students can thrive.

Said Stroupe: “I look at the 10-year anniversary as a mark in Murray State history as a successful attempt at doing something most universities don’t even try.”

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