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Overview: We propose a system of four colleges within which academic, social, and cultural programming can take place. These colleges create smaller communities within our larger Tufts community where students can become known in significant ways by a small group of students, staff, and faculty for all four years of their Tufts experience.
· Housing: Our current (and future) undergraduate housing stock would be allocated among the colleges in a way that creates four comparable colleges. We would expect that two colleges would be located uphill and two downhill. Current and future housing units would be allocated across colleges in a way to create a mix of housing options that would be attractive to students regardless of class year. Ideally, the housing within a college would be geographically clustered to foster a sense of identity within the college. As part of the planning around the construction of colleges, thought should be given to the value of providing within each college one all-freshmen dorm similar to Tilton.
Space would be provided for college offices and a college common room. As an early phase of this proposal, a planned schedule of renovations would be required for dorms to create equity in housing quality across colleges. The four colleges would not be affiliated with particular dining options or halls, but would have regularly planned “college night” programs that might involve meals in the enhanced campus center.
· College Directors and Directors of Advising: Senior members of the faculty would serve as College Directors. The College Directors would take primary responsibility for overseeing academic, cultural, and social programming in the colleges. They would be provided with housing during their term of office as well as a budget for college activities. Ideally, housing for College Directors would be located near their college. The apartment that has been proposed for a new dorm currently under consideration could serve as one of these four residences. The current provost house could also serve as one of these residences. Their housing should allow for small-scale entertaining of students or faculty.
In addition to a College Director, each college would have a full-time Director of Advising to oversee advising for all student affiliates of the college. The Director of Advising would have office space within a college office located somewhere in each college and would have staffing appropriate to the position located within the college. We would expect the College staff to work with Residential Life and RA's on programming. Forms that are currently only available in Dowling, as well as brochures on the counseling center, the group of six, student activities, etc., could be stocked in the college offices.
Some thought should be given to the administrative structure overseeing our advising system. One possibility would be to construct an Advising Board constituted of the College Directors, the Directors of Advising, and other key individuals. Whether such a board is deemed desirable or not, we feel that the advising program should come under the auspices of an academic dean.
· Affiliation and Advising: Students would be affiliated with a college throughout their college years regardless of place of residence. Affiliation could conceivably continue after graduation thereby creating additional links between our current students and alumni. We envision students being randomly assigned to colleges. Fraternities, sororities, and culture housing units would not be assigned to a college but students living in these facilities would preserve their particular college affiliation. Non-resident students (living in apartments in Medford/Somerville) or elsewhere (study-abroad) would also maintain their college affiliation.
The supervision of advising would be decentralized to the colleges. The director of advising for each of the colleges would oversee advising for all students within the college. Actual advising for pre-majors would be done – as under the current system – by faculty and staff using the existing advising options (or any new options that are deemed desirable over time). Pre-major advisors would be college affiliates and would be able to draw on college resources to assist in advising. The director of advising within a college would serve as a resource both for pre-major advisors as well as for advisors within the student's concentration. The rationale for this shift in advising supervision is to ensure that a single set of people have continuous knowledge of a student throughout his or her college career. This continuity of knowledge is invaluable both for students struggling in either personal or academic areas and for students who because of their academic performance should be singled out for post-graduate guidance towards fellowships or other opportunities.
Because of the small numbers of engineering students and our belief that engineering students should be members of all four colleges, we propose a slightly different model for the Dean of Advising for engineering students. We recommend that the Associate Dean of Engineering and Academic Services be affiliated with all four colleges and work closely with the four Directors of Advising within the colleges. We envision these two individuals working as an advising team within each college.
College directors could (and we hope would) encourage other faculty and staff to affiliate with their college. Benefits of affiliation would include the opportunity to participate in college activities. We also propose that faculty affiliates who are pre-major advisors be given a free meal plan – perhaps a 40 meal plan – to the student dining halls both to serve as compensation and to encourage faculty-student interactions over meals.
· College Programming: An essential benefit of the college system is the opportunity to carry out programming for students, staff, and faculty in a more intimate fashion. This is an essential element of our strategy to utilize community building to contribute to academic excellence. Each college would have resources for programming, academic tutoring, and peer writing review mechanisms, among other things. Programming could include bringing speakers to campus, hosting cultural and social events, and sponsoring intramural events of either an athletic or intellectual nature across colleges.
We also believe that the advising system within colleges could play an important role in orientation for first-year students as well as an on-going role through the first year. For example, we have discussed the merits of a reading program for the summer prior to a student's first year at Tufts. Book discussions could serve as an ice-breaker for faculty and students and serve as an initial bond that can be strengthened through subsequent activities. We also feel that the colleges can be important instruments for addressing difficult issues such as cultural differences and diversity. It is our belief that people can best address sensitive topics in groups when they know the members of the group well and have some level of comfort within that group. If Tufts is to make real progress in dealing with cultural, ethnic, racial, and other differences, it must create safe environments in which to explore our differences. We feel that the college system can help foster that safe environment.
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