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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.

Collegiate Progress at the University of Mississippi

— I had the pleasure of visiting the University of Mississippi three years ago to talk about residential colleges, and since then Ole Miss has been making wonderful progress in developing collegiate plans for its campus. Today’s edition of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that the plans continue to advance, with three residential colleges now under consideration. Congratulations to Tim Hall and all his colleagues on their important work: Ole Miss students and faculty will thank them for generations to come.

Ole Miss explores idea of mixing classes, residence halls

The University of Mississippi plans to build three “residential colleges” that will pair hundreds of students in modern quarters with a few professors living and teaching next door.

“It’s a smaller college within a bigger college,” said associate provost Tim Hall, who heads a task force studying the subject.

Costs for the Ole Miss facilities aren’t known yet. The College Board has allowed Ole Miss to hire professionals to start planning the facilities.

While a number of details have yet to be worked out, Ole Miss officials say they don’t intend to build more high rises that don’t have kitchens, classrooms and computer access to libraries.

But a new report by American School & University magazine shows the typical cost nationwide was $20.4 million for a 382-student residence hall constructed in 2005.

“That’s comparable to what we are hearing and thinking about,” Hall said.

Part of the financing will be coming from student housing fees. The site for the first residential college is at the intersection of Sorority Row and Jackson Avenue.

The new housing concept is needed as Ole Miss’ enrollment grows, Chancellor Robert Khayat said.

Ole Miss hasn’t built new campus residence halls since the early 1970s.

The first two new residential facilities are expected to open on the Oxford campus by August 2009. Construction will require about 18 months.

An Ole Miss senior faculty fellow and junior faculty fellow, along with their spouses, will be invited to stay in apartments in the new buildings. But the idea of living in close proximity to college students, known to turn up the music and keep odd hours, doesn’t appeal to some professors.

“I like my house,” said English professor Ronald Schroeder. “It would be hard to recruit faculty for it,” he said.

Hall expects students are likely to pay more to live in the residential college than a dorm room.

But no decisions have been made about rent, if there is any, for faculty or whether they will receive compensation to live there, Hall said. It’s unlikely young children would be allowed to stay in the residence hall because of liability issues.

What is clear is that faculty dwelling in the new residential college on the Oxford campus “will need to love their discipline, and they need to love students,” Hall said.

Drew Taggart, 20, of Madison, the Ole Miss student body president-elect, said the new housing concept should improve communication between faculty and students.

Hall also sees advantages if a few faculty members and their families live, eat and teach around students. “It is a way of making sure education is not confined to the classroom. They (students) need more than lectures. They need mentoring and advising,” Hall said. “We hope faculty bring counsel, advice and informal conversations about careers and education.”

Ole Miss officials borrowed from similar campus housing plans at other schools.

At Mississippi State University, college headquarters, classrooms and student housing have been combined into one building.

The recently opened co-ed Bryce Griffis Hall, like the other new halls around it that create a “northeast village,” boasts private bathrooms, wireless Internet access, full-size refrigerators and lots of other amenities.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2021