The Collegiate Way: Residential Colleges & the Renewal of University Life  ‹›


About the Collegiate Way Website

Contacts · Info for Journalists · How You Can Help

This page provides some quick facts for journalists and other visitors to the Collegiate Way website, along with information on how you (yes, you) can help the residential college movement.

1. What’s this website about?

The Collegiate Way website advocates the creation of decentralized residential colleges within large universities as a way of improving higher education for all. Residential colleges are small, permanent, cross-sectional, faculty-led societies of a few hundred members that provide the advantages of a small college in the context of a big institution. Residential colleges are called “houses” at some institutions, and a “residential college system” is identical to a “house system” at both the university and secondary-school level (yes, it’s just like Harry Potter).

Residential colleges originated at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in Great Britain, and they have long been a feature of higher education in Commonwealth countries. The first American universities to establish residential colleges were Harvard and Yale in the 1930s and Rice in the 1950s, and in recent years they have spread to institutions as varied as Murray State University in Kentucky, the University of Miami in Florida, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University in New Jersey, the University of Mississippi, the University of the Americas in Mexico, and Jacobs University in Germany.

Read more: The Collegiate Way’s page on “Four Foundations for Higher Education Renewal” outlines why residential colleges are important, and the Collegiate Way’s news blog reports on recent developments. Other sections of the website are linked from the sidebar on every page.

2. Who runs this website?

The Collegiate Way website was established in 2000 by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara (that’s me), a biologist and higher education writer from Massachusetts (USA). I am responsible for all the site’s content. You can find a brief professional biography on my academic website (, and a narrative of how I became involved in residential college work in my essay on “The Collegiate Landscape of the Future.” I have sixteen years’ experience in residential college life and adminstration at Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, and Middlebury College, and have been an invited speaker and consultant on residential colleges in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, and Ireland.

3. I’m a journalist; who can I interview here?

Dr. Robert J. (Bob) O’Hara (, The Collegiate Way, P.O. Box 7535, Fitchburg, Massachusetts 01420 USA. I’m always glad to exchange e-mail or talk on the phone about residential colleges as time permits.

Residential colleges and the Collegiate Way website have been featured in stories published by the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the London Times Higher Education Supplement, and Inside Higher Ed, as well as in local and campus newspapers. You’ll be able to find many leads throughout the Collegiate Way for articles about trends in higher education, campus life, student housing, and “making the most of college.”

4. How can I help the residential college movement?

If you’re a faculty member or university administrator, start talking to your colleagues about the residential college idea, and consider inviting me to your campus to speak about residential colleges and exchange ideas with interested people. My essay on “The Collegiate Landscape of the Future” might be a good vehicle to generate discussion among your colleagues.

If you’re a student, alumnus, or campus public relations officer, consider writing an article or editorial for your local media about benefits of residential colleges and “the collegiate way of living.”

If you’re a parent or school counselor, encourage the young people in your life to browse the directory of residential colleges around the world and see whether any of those institutions meet their educational needs.

If you’re an architect or campus planner, why not print out the Collegiate Way’s page of detailed recommendations for buildings and grounds and circulate it among your colleagues for discussion.

If you’re a blogger, why not write a post or a series of posts about residential colleges for the readers of your blog. If you’re a webmaster, please consider linking to the Collegiate Way from one of your own pages.

If you’re a native speaker of a language other than English, please consider translating an introduction to the Collegiate Way into your language. Translations into Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, and Spanish are already available.

Thank you!

© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2021