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The Residential College Concept

The Residential College movement in the United States was modeled on the centuries-old colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. Bowles Hall at UC Berkeley was the first Residential College in the United States, opened in 1929—one year earlier than the first Residential College at Harvard. Today, the Residential College model is successful at 398 sites, at 63 universities, in 14 countries. The Residential College model is designed to put students first and challenges the existing residential systems at many universities that merely house first-year students.

What is the Collegiate Way?

Learn more about the collegiate way from an essay by Robert J. O’Hara about the Residential College concept: Four Foundations for the Renewal of University Life.

To read more about the Residential College model, visit www.collegiateway.org/


A new and revitalized Bowles Hall Residential College will offer benefits that extend beyond Hall residents to Berkeley campus administrators, faculty, and staff, and to the alumni and friends of Bowles Hall, including the following:

For residents:

  • Maturity and Friendship: A community and true campus home where freshmen learn from seniors; where residents mature and develop social skills and respect for all; where friendships and loyalties are formed that exist long after graduation.
  • Diversity and Dialogue: A diversity of academic majors within the humanities, social sciences, biological-medical sciences and physical sciences, where residents and faculty members share ideas, experiences and exchange views outside the classroom setting.
  • Pride and Belonging: A residential bond where none remain anonymous or uninvolved, where all participate in a suite of activities and events that reinforce a sense of belonging and pride in their residential surroundings and become a part of a life-changing community that existed long before the arrival of the student and will continue long after he/she has moved on from Cal.

For the campus:

  • Quality and Excellence: A standard of quality and excellence where newly developed resident-life programs serve as models for activities that could be extended for the benefit other residential students on the Berkeley campus and in the UC System.
  • Involvement: An opportunity for administrators, faculty and staff to become involved, whether as mentors—offering seminars or short courses—or through invitations to live and dine with residents and share life experiences.
  • Renovated and Upgraded Facilities: Bowles Hall will be renovated and upgraded to restore its rich character while meeting the needs of today’s students, addressing life-safety and ADA requirements, remediating deferred maintenance and incorporating state-of-the-art communications, and relieving UC Berkeley of the costs of maintenance and operation for 45 years.
  • Loyalty and Support: An experience where memories are generated that build the foundation for campus loyalty and financial support from alumni.

For Alumni and Friends of Bowles Hall:

  • A Community of Partners: Opportunities where the community of alumni, faculty and Friends of Bowles Hall participate as partners with Hall residents and campus leaders, to serve as advisors and mentors, to lead seminars and short courses on topics of mutual interest, and to participate at special dinners and weekend gatherings.
  • Pride: A membership in a broad community that extends locally, regionally and across the United States and abroad; a community united through common bonds of mutual experience, respect and concern for others; and pride in the memories they experienced at Bowles Hall Residential College.
  • Ownership: Lifetime connection to fellow members and supporters of the Bowles Hall Residential College to preserve and enhance the Bowles Hall experience and historic building.

Read more about the Collegiate Way .