The residential college model was approved for Vanderbilt in 2002, the same year that I arrived here. From the beginning, this model seemed to me a fine one for our institution, and it was also something to which I was immediately and very strongly attracted. Moreover, I knew in my heart that eventually I would live on central campus, even though the only structure being discussed in those early days was the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons for first-year students, and that was not destined to be on central campus. Nonetheless, I was confident that one day I would live there.
Now, more than 10 years later, I watched with anxious anticipation as the College Halls grew into one of the most impressive structures on campus. I also remind myself that this “structure” is also a home that, as the faculty director of Moore college, I share with over 600 students and my friend Doug Fisher, the faculty director of Warren college, and his wife Patricia. Suddenly the immensity of what we are doing is apparent, but it is always accompanied by a sense of adventure and excitement.
The philosophy of the College Halls — indeed, of the entire residential model — is based in part on the idea of “engaged community.” This means many things, but among them is the idea of shared ideas and ongoing support for the interests of friends and hall-mates. As projects – works of arts, performances, papers, anything under the sun – grow and develop, the College Halls provide an audience and a critical sounding board. Some students might want to show a series of their favorite films and lead discussions afterward. Blair students could have a place to perform works that may or not get performed in Blair. Students could support athletes from the floor, who in turn would come to their presentation. The opportunities for engagement in a community beyond the small ones most of us tend to live in is one of the most exciting aspects of the residential model, and I am honored to help bring that model to a wider spectrum of Vanderbilt students.
As faculty director of Moore college, I hope to have a door that is open more often than it is closed, and I hope to have ongoing conversations with all the students who will also be my neighbors. We have so much to teach each other and so may ways to learn from our neighbors. The College Halls is the ideal place to explore and expand that process. It is also someplace that can, and I believe will, enhance and broaden the undergraduate experience at Vanderbilt.
Faculty Director, Moore College