A Review of the Residential College Movement in 2007
30 December 2007 (collegiateway.org) — It’s been a good year for residential colleges and the collegiate way of living around the world. Some of the year’s highlights appear below. If you have a friend, colleague, parent, or student who might be interested in residential colleges and the renewal of university life, why not forward this page as an introduction to recent developments.
Notable press coverage: The residential college movement received a good deal of press coverage in the past year. Particularly notable were stories by Brian Westley of the Associated Press on faculty-in-residence, Lucy Schultze of the Oxford Eagle on the national context of the University of Mississippi’s residential college plans, and especially Bruce Weber of the New York Times on residential colleges and the renewal of campus life in the United States.
New-college notes from around the world: New residential colleges were established at a number of universities and plans were announced for the creation of other residential colleges and collegiate systems. Of particular note: the University of Otago announced the establishment of Abbey College, the first graduate residential college in New Zealand; Princeton University opened Whitman College and extended its plans for a four-year college system; Rice University announced plans for Duncan College and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rice collegiate system; and the Chinese University of Hong Kong made substantial progress toward the development of an impressive residential college system, one that is certain to be a model for other Asian universities.
Collegiate tips and essay highlights: Do you teach your students about grown-up love on Valentine’s Day? Does your college have an inspiring motto or a cheap marketing slogan? Do you gather live traditions from the air and involve your students in ceremonies of state that unite them with those who came before and those who will come after? When faced with real tragedy in the world does your college encourage deep reflection and analysis? Do you show your students that knowledge is embodied, even in sinking ships? Does your college have an auspex?
And finally: Let’s open the books so we can bring about some substantive reform in higher education administration, let’s think hard about bad architecture and what can be done to mitigate its effects, and let’s be encouraged by the growing popularity of house systems in secondary schools.
Continuing to advance the residential college idea in the years ahead will take hard work and perhaps a little magic. But why are we here if we’re not magic?