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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

These news items about residential colleges, collegiate houses, and the renewal of university life are posted for readers of the Collegiate Way website. For more about residential colleges and collegiate universities please visit the main Collegiate Way page.

Colorado Regents Approve Collegiate Plan

— Last September I reported that the University of Colorado at Boulder was considering the creation of a partial residential college system. Those plans have continued to develop, and in today’s edition of The Daily Camera, the Boulder city newspaper, staff writer Brittany Anas reports that the university’s Board of Regents has approved one of the first stages of the plan: the renovation of CU’s Arnett Hall. Anas interviewed me earlier this week for the story, and some of the ideas I shared with her are included in the final article, which appears below.

Arnett Hall program gets CU Regents’ OK

Renovation is part of long-term “residential colleges” plan

AURORA — Arnett Hall, a four-decade-old dorm on the University of Colorado’s campus, is set to be turned into a modern living area mixed with classrooms.

CU’s Board of Regents voted 8-1 Tuesday to approve the Arnett Hall renovation project, which the university projects will cost up to $14 million. Regent Tom Lucero cast the lone dissenting vote, saying housing officials did not provide sufficient funding details and he worries students will be burdened with the costs.

The Arnett renovation will be paid through increased room-and-board rates as well as a premium charge for students living in the renovated spaces, said university Housing Director Deb Coffin. The premium rates have not yet been set.

The renovation is part of CU’s long-term plan to create “residential colleges,” aimed at keeping more sophomores and upperclassmen living in dorms and participating in academic programs based there.

CU is among an increasing number of public colleges designing residence-based academic programs, which have traditionally been popular at private schools, Coffin said.

The idea behind residential colleges is to provide a smaller classroom setting for students and set up closer interactions between freshmen and upperclassmen, who would live in the same building. Arnett will also house professors’ offices.

Construction crews are scheduled to begin work in fall 2007, and campus officials are hoping to give the aging hall a makeover by installing air conditioning, making wireless Internet connections available, reducing the number of beds, and building classrooms and faculty offices.

To attract upperclassmen, there will be private bathrooms and suites.

During construction, students will be housed in other residence halls and possibly the Bear Creek Apartments near U.S. 36 and Baseline Road.

Coffin said she expects the renovated dorm will attract more professionals who come in the summer for conferences. The costs they would pay to stay in the residence hall could offset the money students will pay for the project.

The university now brings in between $3 million and $4 million a year from people who stay in the dorms while attending on-campus athletic camps, academic programs and professional conferences during the summer.

Bob O’Hara, an advocate of residential colleges from Middlebury, Vt., has worked as a consultant for schools including the University of Mississippi and the University of Vermont.

O’Hara said residential colleges allow freshmen to interact with upperclassmen, and to see what it’s like to apply to law school, write a thesis, search for jobs or prepare to study abroad.

“An undergraduate student coming to the university for the first time can get lost in the crowd,” O’Hara said.

Students also are able to interact with their professors outside of the classroom setting.

“Students can talk with faculty about current affairs, weather, history, politics,” he said. “It’s good for the students, and it’s good for the faculty, too.”

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