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 Tuesday, Apr. 25, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

 In the interest of fostering discussion on current campus topics, Id like to share the following message from Dean Todd Gleeson and Vice Chancellor Ron Stump.

Residential Campus Initiative
By Todd Gleeson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Ron Stump, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Last summer, a Residential Campus Study Group was charged by Chancellor Phil DiStefano to study the merits of developing a Residential Campus for the University of Colorado at Boulder. The group was further asked that, should the study conclude such a model had merit, they identify and propose the best Residential Campus concept for implementation.

The primary motivation for the study was based on recent and recurring issues surrounding student high risk behaviors related to alcohol, the need to improve the campus climate particularly related to diversity and most importantly, the opportunity to further engage students in the academic experience which would result in a change in the campus culture. The vehicle for doing so, the Residential Campus concept, has long been provided by Cambridge and Oxford and today at such U.S. schools as Vanderbilt, Washington University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia1. Current trends suggest that an increasing number of public research universities are embracing this model and developing residential academic programs and colleges. Within a Residential Campus model, students are more fully engaged as active learners from their first year through their entire undergraduate experience, in an environment that fosters community and supports their intellectual and personal growth.

In responding to the charge, the study group examined the success of the campus Residential Academic Programs (RAPs), the current campus facilities and supporting infrastructure, as well as the successes and challenges other campuses have experienced with their residential campus models.

In addition, the study group consulted with the Department of Housing & Dining Services (HDS) on the future plans to renovate the residence halls, so as to coordinate the needed facility renovations with the proposed educational programming ideals.

In talking with other universities and studying their materials, the group found that Residential Campuses by design are a means to integrate faculty and students, living and learning, and community and personal engagement over a multiyear period. Within a Residential Campus, students become a part of a greater educational whole and are actively engaged in supporting the learning enterprise. Campuses which have implemented this model confirm there is an obvious, positive change in the student and campus culture specifically related to improving student intellectual activity and social behavior around alcohol, interpersonal relationships and diversity.

Based on the strong foundation established by the campus RAP programs and the success of the Residential Campus model at other universities, the study group concluded that a Residential Campus model would transform the educational experience for students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Overwhelmingly, the recommendation was to adopt the Residential Campus concept and identify the model which would best enhance the specific culture and demographics of the student learning experience, and most importantly build upon our current successful Residential Academic Programs (RAPs). The group further recommended that the concept be implemented in stages over a 15-year period, beginning with a new program to be housed in the Kittredge Complex.

The group reviewed their report and recommendation with campus governance groups, including the Boulder Faculty Assembly Executive Committee, Deans Council, the University of Colorado Student Union leadership, and the Chancellor"s Executive Committee. With their general support and suggestions for enhancing the program, the committee"s report was presented to Chancellor DiStefano and Provost Avery. They accepted the recommendation and asked that the effort move to the next stage of planning.

In this next stage, planning for the renovation of Arnett Hall in Kittredge Commons will move forward with an emphasis on accommodating the Residential Campus concept. We expect an expansion of the Honors Program will anchor this transformation. In May, an implementation team will also be charged to develop: (1) a Request for Proposal process and criteria for the programs, (2) a plan to sustain program development over the next 15 years, (3) a financial analysis and plan for funding, and (4) assessment criteria and means for measuring the success of the new programs.

With this initiative, the future is bright for the on-campus living experience provided to our students. As the program evolves, we should expect more fully-engaged students who are active learners and better connected to faculty and the intellectual life of the campus.

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