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Residential College Staffs and Fellows

Faculty Chair

In a residential college, the Faculty Chair, who is a full-time faculty member, traditionally serves a three-year term based on appointment by the Provost and Vice President for Student Affairs. Faculty Chairs provide intellectual leadership for the college; nurture the fellows program of the college; engage student members of the college; and, where appropriate, cultivate the college theme and draw in campus resources to promote that theme via fellow appointments and programming. While the duties of the Faculty Chair vary from college to college, common responsibilities include those outlined below.

Provide Intellectual Leadership

Working with the student executive board of the college, the Faculty Chair helps build an appropriate program of academic and cultural events such as firesides, excursions, student-fellow receptions and dinners, RC seminars, etc. For example, the Faculty Chair assists students in arranging firesides by suggesting topics and providing names of possible lecturers or discussion leaders.

Nurture the Fellows Program

The cadre of fellows affiliated with each college provides an important resource for the student-faculty contact that distinguishes residential colleges from traditional residence halls. Working with the executive board, the Faculty Chair ensures that fellows are notified of upcoming college events, active in the life of the college, and feel their participation matters for the success of the college and students’ experience as members.

Establish Academic/Cultural Programming as a Priority for Student Leaders

The Faculty Chair works with the executive board, which is the student government of the college, to develop a sense of community among students and between students and faculty. To ensure that academic and cultural programming is a priority, the Faculty Chair attends meetings of the college’s executive board and meets regularly with the Associate Chair, Assistant Chair, and key student officers to discuss the life of the college. As time permits, the Faculty Chair attends college firesides, student productions, recreational events, etc.

Informally Advise Student Members

The Faculty Chair is often the faculty member best known to college members (especially first-year students). Thus, the Faculty Chair often provides informal advice to students on academic and/or personal matters and, when appropriate, refers students to other campus advising and counseling resources.

Associate Chair

The Associate Chair is ordinarily a full-time faculty member who is selected by the Faculty Chair from among the college’s fellows. Traditionally, each college has one Associate Chair who shares some of the Faculty Chair's responsibilities. The Associate Chair serves at the pleasure of the Faculty Chair; there is neither a set term nor a formal selection process.

The role of the Associate Chair varies depending upon the needs of the college, the needs of the Faculty Chair, and the special interests of the individual filling the position. Associate Chairs often have a clear yet limited set of responsibilities arranged with the Faculty Chair and assume primary responsibility for an on-going project such as language tables, helping recruit fellows, organizing excursions, or teaching an RC seminar.

Assistant Chair

Under the direction of the Faculty Chair, the Assistant Chair helps coordinate college-specific programs and serves as the college’s coordinator for programs organized by the Office of Residential Academic Initiatives on behalf of the college. As the formal adviser of the college’s executive board, the Assistant Chair helps plan for students and faculty to come together for firesides, cultural outings, etc. The Assistant Chair also engages students in discussions about their academic and professional development and refers students to appropriate offices for academic or career counseling.


Fellow participation is at the heart of the of residential college program. Fellows are faculty members and administrators whose presence and participation in the colleges supplement that of the college staff. Students benefit greatly from the opportunity to become acquainted with these individuals outside the classroom--at firesides, over meals, or on excursions to Chicago. All fellows are encouraged to eat with student members in the colleges' designated dining halls. Fellows on the faculty can also lead RC seminars, small credit-bearing courses reserved for college members and generally limited to 10 students. They are also encouraged to submit proposals for the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program, a university-wide program that has priority funds for research pairings of residential college fellows and members.

In addition, the residential college program enables faculty from various schools and departments to connect with each other. Faculty Chairs periodically sponsor social and other events exclusively for fellows to promote collegial networking opportunities.