Thursday, January 15, 2004

Remembering Claremont 

Joanne Jacobs discusses Collegiate Way, which is trying to create faculty-led colleges within larger universities. Can a large university that is centralized and bureaucratic ever be "student-centered"? And can faculty leadership be assured when the student's residential life is continuously changed in order to meet the demands of the university's business model?

I did my graduate work at Claremont, whose origins were built exactly on that model. The goal was to form a new school approximately every ten years. The schools still keep dorm rooms for faculty to live in residence with students. Some of the campuses are more faculty-led than others; in terms of viewpoint diversity, you find a full range of opinions across the campuses (I've taught at both Pitzer and Claremont McKenna, and they are NOTHING alike) as well as different specializations (Harvey Mudd for engineering, for example.) They share business and building-and-grounds functions, but otherwise work quite autonomously. I think that model has worked well for Claremont, and I've always been surprised it hasn't been used more.