A Small OU
Walk into Dunham College or Headington College and you might just feel like you’re entering Hogwarts. With the intricate great dining hall, two houses, and welcoming common spaces, it’s hard to not feel like Harry Potter when you step into the University of Oklahoma’s brand new residential colleges, the newest exciting living option for OU’s upperclassmen.
These residential colleges are housing their first batch of students after opening for the fall semester. The colleges have a goal “to provide an intimate and supportive community designed to promote the social, intellectual, and personal growth of OU undergraduates,” according to their website.
To do this, each college features a variety of community spaces, including a meditation room, music rehearsal room, creative commons used to prepare materials to take to the Innovation Hub, library, and living room area. The buildings also house faculty offices and 30-seat classrooms, which will host courses like first-year foundations, history, and political science.
Also, events will be held in the colleges, including high table dinners with distinguished visitors and speakers and weekly teas with guests. Residents will also be able to take ownership in the planning of the events for the two colleges, whether that be a ballroom dancing night in the dining hall or whatever other ideas they may have.
The residential colleges model can be seen in action around the world, and OU’s system is strongly influenced by Yale University. The model combines all aspects of a university into one community.
“Our belief is that there was a real opportunity to integrate all the aspects of the university together,” Keith Gaddie, Senior Fellow for Headington College, shared. “It’s interesting that these pair of colleges sit at Lindsey Street, right by the stadium, right where the academics and the housing and the athletic and everything comes together.
“Even though these two institutions physically sit on the south side of Lindsey, they are kind of a bridge that I think we can see pulling the residential experience, the academic experience, the social experience, the cultural experience, together and make something a true college experience, a true collegiate experience,” Gaddie continued.
Over 100 majors, 29 countries, and 39 states are represented in the two buildings, mirroring the diverse demographics of OU.
“It really is like the larger university. It’s a small OU,” said Mark Morvant, Dunham College’s Senior Fellow.
Auston Stiefer, a senior Spanish and public health major from Lawton, Oklahoma, is serving as resident mentor in Dunham. When he was a sophomore, he was asked if he’d like to be involved with the colleges when they opened, and the idea intrigued him from the beginning.
“The idea of creating a new tradition, creating a new legacy on campus was interesting to me, especially going into my senior year,” Stiefer shared. “This is going to be just another way to form community on campus. It’s going to be another very distinct community with its own personality. With all students, I feel like that’s over the course of their college journey, we’re all trying to find community, I think at the very least this is just one more option for our students.”
As a transfer student from Oklahoma City, junior Maddie Taylor decided she wanted to live on campus while finishing her nursing degree. For Taylor, the residential colleges felt like a home, and after initially being on a wait list, she and her roommate knew it was the place for them.
“This is the first time to get a college experience because I’ve been at a community college this whole time,” Taylor explained. “If you’re in nursing school you’ll be either in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, you don’t stay in Norman, and it would be pointless for me to stay in the dorms in Oklahoma City since it’s not that far of a drive from my house. I just decided that I wanted a college experience, and so I came here and decided to live on campus.”
Why should future students consider living in the residential colleges? Gaddie asked, “Why wouldn’t they?”
“Done right, this is everything that’s best about the University of Oklahoma,” Gaddie said. “It’s about students, it’s about community, it’s about scholarship, it’s about culture, it’s about fun.”
Interested in living on campus as a sophomore? Incoming freshmen have many choices – Dunham College, Headington College, Traditions East, Traditions West, or the new Cross Neighborhood opening in fall 2018 – and can complete a two-year housing commitment to secure their spots for both their freshman and sophomore years. They will receive a total discount of $1,000 for the two-year period plus free summer housing between the first and second year. Students who live on campus for multiple years have higher graduation rates and GPAs than their peers who live off campus. Click here to learn more about living in OU's new residential colleges. LiveOU! Everything is here.