Philosophy, organization of University House System under review
Should the University House System be organized differently? How can we encourage more faculty participation in residential life? Should more students live closer to campus? Should residence halls be organized by academic interests? When a new dormitory is built, what should it look like?
These questions and more are being addressed by the newly appointed Committee to Review the University House System. Composed of faculty and staff members, the committee is also seeking College students interested in participating in discussions about the House System.
Chaired by Richard Taub, the Paul Klapper Professor in the College, Sociology and the Committee on Human Development, the committee has been charged by John Boyer, Dean of the College, and Arthur Sussman, Vice President for Administration, with reviewing the philosophy of the University House System.
Currently, there are 37 undergraduate houses in the House System, grouped into 11 residence halls. While each house has its distinctive traditions, all houses are similar in that each includes a cross-section of the College population with regard to students' academic and extracurricular interests, year in the College, and home states and countries.
"In particular, we want the committee to look at two key areas," Boyer said. "First, how the House System should relate to other aspects of student life, such as the Office of the Reynolds Club & Student Activities, and second, how we should be planning for the growth of the House System, given how that system is organized."
Other topics to be addressed by the committee include faculty involvement in housing, academic "theme" houses, staffing levels and class mix.
"The University has always benefited from the strong commitment of its faculty and staff, shown by their giving generously of their time in service such as this," Sussman said. "We hope that the University Community will assist the committee in planning for the strengthening of an already strong House System."
The committee is expected to meet throughout the academic year and to report its conclusions in late spring.
"In the next few weeks," said Taub, "we will meet with people in the College, such as Katie Nash, Dean of Students in the College, and Ted O'Neill, Dean of College Admissions. We'll also meet with Resident Masters and students, and we're visiting other universities with distinctive housing systems."
Taub said it's important for the committee to maintain its focus on "how the University does what it does, not just on what it does. For example, we encourage mingling between all students in the College, but the question has arisen over whether or not we should have freshman dorms. Although the committee will meet during the next two quarters, we hope to raise and discuss issues that will be significant during the next few years."
In addition to Taub, the committee members are David Bevington, the Phyllis Fay Horton Professor in the Humanities and the College; the Rev. Alison Boden, Dean of Rockefeller Chapel; Sherry Gutman, Director of the University House System; Susan Levine, Professor in Psychology and the College; David Powelstock, Assistant Professor in Slavic Languages & Literatures and the College; Morton Silverman, Director of the Student Counseling & Resource Center; and Herman Sinaiko, Professor in the Humanities and the College.
Anyone interested in sharing their ideas and opinions with the committee should call Richard Taub at 702-7927.