Live and Learn
Campus learning communities are growing, thanks to a new initiative.
Students who live in residential learning communities at UW-Madison call it the best decision they have made, but demand for space far exceeds the supply.
Last fall, 20 percent of students in residence halls were living among six learning communities, immersed in subjects ranging from Arabic to entrepreneurship. Now the university is expanding the program using funds from the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates, a supplemental tuition charge being phased in over a four-year period to increase financial aid and improve undergraduate education.
The university launched its first residential learning community in 1995. By the 2013–2014 academic year, more than 1,600 students will live in nine communities spread throughout UW residence halls. Increasing the number of such communities was among twenty-one proposals Chancellor Biddy Martin PhD’85 designated for a share of $12 million available through the initiative.
The UW has good reason to invest more in residential learning communities. Students involved as freshmen graduate with higher GPAs, earn their degrees sooner, and are more likely to participate in service activities and take on campus leadership roles. They also have lower levels of health problems associated with binge drinking.
The chancellor also has set aside funding from the Madison Initiative to develop a comprehensive plan for improving advising across campus and to hire more faculty and teaching assistants to eliminate bottlenecks in popular courses in chemistry, economics, history, and Spanish.
A final round of projects will receive a share of $4 million in funding in 2011.
Published in the Fall 2010 issue
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