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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

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University of Colorado Considers Residential Colleges

The University of Colorado at Boulder is the latest university to announce that it is considering the residential college model. In today’s issue of the Colorado Daily, the CU student newspaper, Matt Williams reports that the university’s interim chancellor, Phil DiStefano, is exploring the creation of a partial collegiate system:

CU–Boulder undergraduates a decade from now could be required to live an extra year in campus residence halls as part of a new plan announced Tuesday by the University’s chancellor.

Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano said CU would like to transition toward a mandatory “residence college” concept for all freshmen and sophomores that builds upon CU’s optional live-in academic programs that are already in place.

DiStefano said the aim would be to improve academic performance while encouraging close faculty-staff interactions that were more common generations ago.

“This one concept could truly reinvent the Boulder campus into something better than the fine University we have become,” DiStefano said at CU–Boulder’s Old Main in a speech about his larger vision for CU.

Freshmen currently are required to live for one year in campus residence halls.

Arts and Sciences Dean Todd Gleeson and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Ron Stump are studying the residential-college model, which would place a live-in faculty member in each residence hall who would act as a “principal” and coordinate seminars, study sessions and tutorials for undergraduates.

Gleeson, Stump and the Residential Campus 2020 study group will submit a report on the proposal to DiStefano in December.

DiStefano said the change to the residential college structure would take 10 to 15 years in order to build about 2,500 additional beds to house the influx of sophomores.

Many existing dormitories will also need renovation to accommodate the residence college paradigm, DiStefano said.

Vacancies at Bear Creek at Williams Village could be used to cover some of the housing gap, DiStefano said.

CU–Boulder already operates residence academic programs organized by field of study, like the Kittredge Honors Program and the Sewall science program.

About 1,500 students currently participate, according to CU housing director Deb Coffin.

“I think once the program is in place the students will find it very enriching,” said Coffin. “We draw such bright, talented students that I think they really are looking for a stronger connection to faculty and more academic enrichment in their living environment.”

Congratulations to CU and to Chancellor DiStefano for taking these important steps for the future of the university and all of its members. I hope that as discussions continue, the virtues of fully cross-sectional residential colleges, rather than theme halls or colleges for freshmen and sophomores only, will come to the fore. The University of Colorado has been involved in a number of scandals recently that have arisen out of its corrupt athletic program. This new residential college proposal is encouraging, and it’s good to see CU place a renewed emphasis on providing a high-quality educational environment for all.

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