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Residential College Discussions at Colorado

— The University of Colorado at Boulder last year announced that it was considering the creation of a partial residential college system, and in today’s issue of the Colorado Daily, the CU student newspaper, further details of these plans are reported:

Last September, CU-Boulder Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano unveiled a plan to move CU-Boulder to a “residential college” concept that eventually might require both freshmen and sophomores to live on campus.

“It’s something we’ve talked about for a number of years, but I think this is the first time where we’ve gotten both faculty and students interested in moving this way,” DiStefano said Wednesday.

CU currently requires only freshmen to live in the dormitories.

Upper-division, residential college programs have become increasingly popular at U.S. universities, including at the University of Michigan, Washington University (St. Louis) and the University of Virginia, according to DiStefano.

“From my understanding, they’ve been able to increase the quality of student at the institution, because top students come to institutions for programs,” DiStefano said.[…]

[Housing Director Deb] Coffin said at Vanderbilt University a liberal arts, upper-division college will be housed in one of Vanderbilt’s new upper-division residence halls—a building similar to the Bear Creek apartments.

She said the layout of Bear Creek is already suited to a residence college program: “We might make some main-floor changes and create a couple more meeting and seminar rooms, but that would be the most we would have to do.”

The move to a residential college concept won’t happen until CU builds more dorm space, DiStefano said. (With Bear Creek in the fold, CU has 6,470 beds managed by the campus, excluding family housing).

In the interim, Bear Creek could be used as “surge space” if freshman enrollment increases beyond capacity, or as overflow as CU begins to renovate its older dormitories over the next 10 years.

A study group on the residential college concept co-chaired by CU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Ron Stump and Todd Gleeson, CU-Boulder’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will soon give a report of findings to DiStefano.

The report initially was to be finished last month.

DiStefano said CU is interested in purchasing the Bear Creek apartments from the CU Foundation, likely using money from a long-term loan.

“But we don’t need to do that to have these (residence college) programs,” DiStefano said.

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