Northwestern University Residential Colleges
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Role of the Master Staff

Role of the Master

Each of the eleven residential colleges is presided over by a Master, normally a senior full-time faculty member. The traditional term of the Mastership is three years. All colleges have additional staff: one Associate Master and one Assistant Master. The Associate Master is a faculty member appointment. Assistant Masters are full-time graduate students.

The Master is appointed by the Provost of the University following a recommendation made by the college's search committee, consisting of a small group of college-affiliated faculty and students. Master candidates are recommended by members of the University community.

The role of the Master is to provide intellectual leadership for the College and to provide a prime example of student/faculty interactions outside the classroom. The Master's responsibilities and functions have not been defined in a generic, formal fashion because the Council of Masters has wanted each Master to pursue his or her particular interests and personal strengths; moreover, each College has unique requirements. A binding and limiting list of functions could restrict the role of the Master. However, the responsibilities of the Master include:

  1. Provide intellectual and academic leadership for the college.
  2. Oversee and plan the academic offerings and certain social activities sponsored by the college.
  3. Facilitate student-initiated programming, using the Master's expertise in dealing with both University and outside resources.
  4. Administer the budget and staff of the college, including monitoring the use of the college's educational equipment.
  5. Share governance responsibilities with the student government.
  6. Recruit and serve as liaison to the Fellows of the college.
  7. Appoint an Associate Master, with approval of the Provost.
  8. Recommend selection of Assistant Master(s), with approval of the Office of Residential Academic Initiatives and the Office of the Provost.
  9. Participate in the activities and deliberations of the Council of Masters, which meets during the academic year.
  10. Work with the professional staff of Residential Services, including community assistants who live in the building.
  11. Work with the Housing office concerning the selection and placement of students as residents in the building.
  12. Advise the Provost in the selection of new masters.
  13. Act as a goodwill ambassador for the Residential College system to the University as a whole.

Role of the Associate Master

All residential colleges have an Associate Master. Associate Masters are full-time faculty, usually selected by the master from among the Fellows. Typically, these are Fellows who share some of the Master's organizational responsibilities. Many Associate Masters play a key role in the recruitment of Fellows. In each of the colleges where there is an Associate Master, the responsibilities accommodate the needs of the college, the needs of the Master, and the special capabilities of the individual.

Role of the Assistant Master

All residential colleges have a part-time graduate student position, known as the Assistant Master. Under the direction of the Master and Office of Residential Academic Initiatives staff, these full-time graduate students are responsible for building relationships with students and faculty, attending meetings and events, writing reports about programming, and eating meals regularly in the college dining hall. Assistant Masters also facilitate budgetary processes and coordinate event details for the Master or Office of Residential Academic Initiatives staff as well as advise the college's executive board in planning and executing programs.

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Related Links:
Residential College Board
Helicon Literary Magazine
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Last updated September 17, 2014. Web Disclaimer and University Policy Statements.