Residential education is in the spotlight

Meier Hall
Meier Hall

Stanford’s undergraduate residential education program is undergoing a comprehensive review with the goal of improving the experience of living and learning on campus for all undergraduate students, according to leaders of the ResX initiative, who recently talked about their progress at a Faculty Senate meeting.

Launched last spring, ResX is one of the first initiatives from Stanford’s long-range vision to get underway.

Charged with making recommendations for improving the undergraduate residential experience, the ResX task force is co-chaired by Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Senior Vice Provost for Education Harry Elam and includes faculty, staff, student and alumni representatives.

The ResX task force is taking a comprehensive approach by considering the many aspects of undergraduate residential life, including ideal housing configurations and shared programmatic space, staffing and governance structures, the housing assignment process, community-building programs and the entire experience for first-year students.

“Now more than ever we realized that what happens in the residence has incredible impact on what happens in the classroom. The need to think more holistically about the environment of the undergraduate experience is what drives this effort,” said Elam.

He said that students are faced with a great number of choices when it comes to residential life, which is not necessarily a good thing. “We want to find a system that is more intentional and comprehensive,” he said.

Brubaker-Cole said that in its work to develop a set of recommendations, the ResX task force will consider the university’s commitment to belonging, health and well-being, community, and intellectual and personal growth.

In the last five months, the task force has received input from hundreds of campus community members through in-person meetings, online town halls and website submissions. The task force has also reviewed relevant scholarship and analyzed previous data collected from the Stanford community.

Over the summer, task force members visited the campuses of Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Rice University and Yale University to meet with peers and observe recent efforts by these institutions to reshape residential education.

The goal for ResX is to deliver specific recommendations in a final report to Provost Persis Drell at the end of fall quarter with the intention of implementing changes by summer 2019.

With 99 percent of undergraduate students living on campus, Stanford is one of the most residential universities in the country. The university offers diverse housing options with 85 different dorms, many of which are organized around themes or associations.