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New residential college welcomes first freshman class

Monday, September 10, 2007

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University’s newest residential program, the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) opened its doors to its first freshman class Aug. 22, when 112 students moved into the newly renovated historic Snyder-Phillips complex.

“The opportunity to have small classes and a close working relationship with faculty is a big draw for students,” said Stephen Esquith, acting dean of the college. “Another big draw is the opportunity to study history, languages, ethics, culture, music and art through an interdisciplinary curriculum that also provides opportunities for specialization.”

The RCAH combines interdisciplinary study, personalized attention and multiple learning opportunities where undergraduates will create an individualized program that includes literature, history, ethics, the visual and performing arts, and the study of languages and cultures.

RCAH joins two other residential colleges on campus – James Madison and Lyman Briggs. MSU’s residential colleges were cited by U.S. News & World Report this month as “stellar examples” of programs “linked to student success” among the magazine’s “Programs to Look For” in its recent rankings of America’s best colleges.

The idea behind residential colleges is to provide a unique combination of a small-college environment and the rich diversity of a major research university. Students with similar interests can live and study together and faculty offices are housed in the residence hall, providing easy access for students.

The Snyder-Phillips complex currently features renovated living areas, a newly crafted dining room and a wireless coffee house. When renovations are completed in January, the halls also will house new classrooms, RCAH faculty offices, a language-proficiency center, a multipurpose teaching and performance room, an art studio, music practice rooms and a gallery for visiting artists and student work.

RCAH students will graduate with the same degree, but with their own elective pathway in consultation with an adviser, based on interests and career goals. The curriculum includes small group discussions, seminar-style experiences, civic engagement, creative projects and a language immersion experience through study abroad or 'study away.’

Esquith said the study and use of world languages is an essential part of the experience of RCAH students. The idea is to develop a model for language instruction that achieves proficiency in speaking and listening as well as reading and writing.

A world languages proficiency center in the residence complex will offer many resources. Students will be tested in proficiency at the center and will be provided with guidance and help. Language mentors will work with students to design immersion activities in addition to study abroad programs.

The college hopes to add about 150 new students to the program each year.

For more information, visit the Web site at RCAH www.rcah.msu.edu.

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