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Review Procedures for Residential Colleges

— Residential colleges around the world differ in their degree of institutional autonomy. The colleges of Oxford and Cambridge are independent corporations that own their own property and are governed by their own statutes, whereas most American residential colleges are creatures of a central university and have an organizational status similar to that of an academic department or division.

Regardless of their particular institutional standing, it can be beneficial to have the workings of every residential college examined from time to time by outside reviewers. Reviews of this kind should not be seen merely as mechanisms to correct errors, but rather as opportunities to garner more support for successful college operations.

My colleague Peter Norris, Warden of Saint Margaret’s College at the University of Otago, wrote me to report on a successful review procedure that he had just undertaken and that he recommends to others:

Saint Margaret’s College asked the University of Otago to apply the University Departmental Review process to the College. This was a pilot programme that has since been carried out in one other College and will be carried out in others as a matter of course. The review panel consisted of:

  1. A Head of a College from Brisbane, Australia,
  2. a Head from Christchurch, New Zealand,
  3. a Head from another College at Otago,
  4. a former student who was also the former Otago University Students’ Association President,
  5. a Professor of Law,
  6. a Professor of Geography from the Research Office chairing the panel.

They worked with the University Quality Advancement Unit and took submission from a large group of people as well as interviewing people both within and outside the College. We found the process a good one.

A few months later I was asked by the Rector of Liverpool Hope University College to be a sole reviewer of Student Accommodation and Pastoral Care at Liverpool Hope.

I found it a good experience to be the subject of a review as well as to be the reviewer.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2021