History of Residential Colleges
Residential Colleges (Commons) have been around for hundreds of years. The original Residential College system started from University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. At both Oxford and Cambridge, each residential college bares a lot of autonomy in governance, fundraising, hiring of faculty/staff, and admitting of students. Many students at these institutions consider themselves a member of their college primary to their secondary membership at the overarching Cambridge or Oxford.
Early in the 20th century, Harvard University and then Yale, Princeton, and other Ivy League institutions in the United States began creating a “house” or residential college system to mimic the academic, residential communities that created strong affiliation and identity that it’s sister schools across the Atlantic Ocean were founded upon. A wave of institutions across the country began creating their own version of residential colleges. Even larger institutions such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California-Berkeley, University of Michigan, and Michigan State University created one or two residential colleges that helped create faculty/student relationships in universities that were consistently enrolling thousands of more students.
In the present day there are a select few prestigious institutions that have invested in the residential experience of undergraduates by creating a residential college system along with SMU. Universities like Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University have modernized their residence halls by creating residential colleges.
Residential Commons at SMU
The Residential Commons (RC) will transform student housing campus-wide with an integrated academic and residential experience. The Commons will bring live-in faculty and staff members, resident assistants and other student leaders together to create communities of support. Faculty members associated with each commons will have the opportunity to interact informally and mentor students.
Each commons will develop unique traditions, gatherings and meaningful activities that build community and long-term bonds among residents. Each student will have a close-knit, living and learning environment where a rich intellectual, social, and community life can flourish.
What is the RC Model?
- A new model for campus living, creating an experience in which students affiliate with a particular hall and groups of peers.
- An academics-focused social community where students have a home and sense of belonging.
- A transformation of SMU’s residential experience for new undergraduate students.
- A place where each RC is a microcosm of SMU, and entering students are dispersed across the 11 RCs.
- Each RC will foster an academically-focused, social community where all students have a home and rightful place throughout their SMU experience.
- Each RC will have access to classrooms in or near them.
- RCs will have individual identity symbols and traditions that will make them unique
- There will be new programmatic events that will be created to create community and competition amongst the RCs such as the RC Formal Dinners and the Residential Commons Olympics
- Faculty engagement is the cornerstone of the RC. Each RC will have a faculty member living in each residential commons and several faculty affiliates.
- Student leadership will play an important role in the RCs. Students will have leadership opportunities through community councils and other service positions