Aligning the residential college model with priorities of large institutions

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2017-09-25
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The Gallup-Purdue Index gives us valuable insight into the experiences in college that improve well-being in life after college, specifically highlighting things such as mentoring relationships, caring professors, and enthusiasm for learning. However, many colleges and universities struggle to create the environment for these high impact experiences to flourish. Some have suggested that small, liberal arts institutions are the answer, but what does that mean for large, public research universities? The “Oxbridge” residential college model provides an answer. Much of the literature on the residential college model is in the context of a “liberal arts” education, which emphasizes specific disciplines (e.g., the humanities), but the residential college model is more appropriately aligned with a “liberal education,” which the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) describes as “an approach to college learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.” The AAC&U goes on to explain that a liberal education “helps students develop a sense of social responsibility; strong intellectual and practical skills that span all major fields of study, such as communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills; and the demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.” While some have reduced the residential college model to a liberal arts perspective, the model directly aligns with Abraham Lincoln’s priorities for public higher education that produced our nation’s land grant universities. The residential college model supports growth and development of the whole student, and it enhances and it expands the potential for learning and career preparation beyond conventional living-learning programs. This session will highlight key components of the residential college model, offer examples of implementation at large, public research universities, and connect the model to priorities for improving higher education as a whole. Participants will be able to: (1) align the residential college model with priorities identified by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U); (2) identify marketing messages that resonate with key stakeholders for large, public institutions; and (3) discuss specific strategies for expanding the breadth of support for the residential college model.

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