NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma is introducing something completely new to campus: residential colleges.
The residential college model has its roots at Oxford and Cambridge universities in England.
Some might liken it to Hogwarts, the wizard academy of J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series. Like Hogwarts, the colleges will hold student living facilities, as well as their own internal dining facility, study halls, and seminar rooms where residents will attend class.
Ten OU faculty members, yet to be determined, will have their offices located in the colleges. A student will be able to go to class, go to a professor’s office for extra help, grab a snack, go to study hall, then turn in for the night — all without leaving the building.
“Living and learning communities offer students unique opportunities to interact collaboratively,” said Michael Nash, OU press secretary and assistant to the president. “Students in residential colleges gain leadership skills that will be beneficial to them after graduating.”
Typically, this kind of living arrangement is found at private schools, although public schools have begun to incorporate it. OU will be the first university in the state, as well as the first among the Big 12 schools, to offer residential colleges, Nash said.
The new colleges will be open to sophomore, junior, and senior students, to encourage more upperclassmen to live on campus. Most freshmen live on campus because of university regulations, but many move away after their initial year.
“Research in higher education shows that students who live on campus earn better grades, are more likely to graduate, and are better equipped for the job market,” Nash said. “As student demand for on-campus living has increased, OU has been evaluating options to allow for more upperclassmen students to live on campus.”
OU President David Boren said the residential colleges will have a “huge imprint on the campus.”
OU has about 1,800 students who live in fraternity and sorority houses after their freshman year. “It’s our experience they bond much more closely to the university and with each other,” he said. The residential colleges will give other upperclassmen the same experience.
The university has obtained lead private gifts to fund the first two residential colleges, Boren said.
“We hope to build four over the next three to four years, but we’ll start with two,” he said.
The project is in the early planning phase. No location or start date for the construction has been selected. However, Nash said the buildings will be located within the current residence hall area on campus.
Contributing: Staff Writer K.S. McNutt