May 12-18, 2000
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U.Va.'s third residential college to feature international theme

Stephanie Gross
Gwathmey House, shown here, and adjacent Mumford and Lewis houses, located between Sprigg Lane and Emmet Street, will become U.Va.'s third residential college.

By Dan Heuchert

The quiet, tree-lined neighborhood near Alumni Hall could become a dynamic center of international learning and culture in fall 2001, when the University's third residential college is scheduled to open its doors.

Plans for the new International Residential College are being finalized now, and the call was to go out by next week for two internationally oriented faculty members to serve as its first principal and coordinator of programming, respectively. The college will be housed in existing space at the Gwathmey, Mumford and Lewis residence halls on Sprigg Lane. The Mosaic House, in the nearby Hoxton residence hall, would continue to operate independently, but its students would be encouraged to take part in the college's activities.

"We're hoping it will be a really vibrant mix of faculty and students, both American and international, all eager to share international experiences," said vice provost Barbara Nolan, who worked with a committee headed by Theo Van Groll, director of the International Studies Office, in formulating the plans.

The college's formal proposal, submitted in December, contemplates housing approximately 300 students, mostly undergraduates, with roughly 60 percent being American and 40 percent being international students. First-year enrollment would be limited to about 60 students per year.

Stephanie Gross
Detail of front entrance of Gwathmey House.

The applications of students who have either returned from study-abroad trips or anticipate going on them will be given extra weight in the selection process, Nolan and Van Groll said. Students need not have an international emphasis in their major to apply, only an interest in such areas as international relations, international commerce and foreign languages and cultures, Nolan said.

There has been talk of an international college since the early 1990s, Nolan noted. The idea gained momentum from the impetus of the Virginia 2020 Planning Commission on International Activities, which had some overlap with the planning committee that formed the college proposal.

It was "kind of a low-hanging fruit," said Van Groll, also a member of the planning commission.

One concern for the college's framers was the potential effect upon the current foreign language houses, Nolan said. "We will be very careful to give them priority if we have a student that both are interested in."

The planners anticipate that the college will host international speakers, seminars led by faculty members, and short-term visiting scholars, in addition to fostering informal interactions. Students in the college would be expected to dine together at a specified number of times each week (likely in Newcomb Hall) and at a monthly banquet.

The Sprigg Lane area was attractive because of its proximity to central Grounds and the suitability of the residence halls there to a residential college format, Van Groll said. Nolan expects only modest renovations will be needed.

Some functions of the International Center on Rugby Circle will be relocated to the college, Van Groll said, including the library, which consists primarily of study-abroad materials.

Job descriptions for the principal and coordinator of programming were still being finalized, but were to be e-mailed to the faculty soon. The principal position will be a three-year, renewable appointment, likely to be half-time. The application deadline will come in October, said Nolan, and the appointment made by December.

"Obviously, we're hoping for a senior, tenured, academic faculty member with particular interest in international culture and languages," Nolan said. "And someone who enjoys interacting with undergraduates and has a vision of where the college should go in the next two or three years."

The programming position will likely require similar qualities, she said, but will probably be a two-thirds-time position.


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