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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

These news items about residential colleges and the renewal of university life are posted for readers of the Collegiate Way website. To receive an occasional digest of this news please add your name to the monthly Collegiate Way mailing list.

Back to the Future via the Collegiate Way

[The University of Mississippi] — As part of the ongoing coverage of the University of Mississippi’s new residential college, the Senatobia Democrat weighs in this week with an editorial on the project.

Residential College

In August 2009 Ole Miss plans to open “a new student residence where students and faculty will begin to build a new kind of academic community,” according to the university’s web site. The program is called a “residential college.”

“Students will have the choice to live in the college throughout their time at the university, and together will build a vibrant living and learning community,” according to the university.

The whole concept sounds like a “back to the future” curriculum to us. [Curriculum isn’t the right word here, but let that pass. —RJO] Most students at Mississippi universities in the years prior to the 1970s had to live on campus. The schools were smaller. Many of the faculty lived nearby. The students congregated at the grill, the canteen, or another similar location on campus. It was a compact and effective learning environment—a “residential college.”

Somehow during the national and international competition for students and the relaxation of social standards that began in the late 60s and 70s, colleges lost their way and became marketing and entertainment centers for young folks.

Now Ole Miss seems to be pioneering the path back to a form of educational sense of purpose.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2014