Office of Student Affairs

The Office of Student Affairs places student learning at the center of its work. Consistent with the College Mission, the programs and offices under the Dean of Student Affairs educate students as they discover and explore a love of learning, the skills of critical thinking, the role of citizenship in their lives and the values of civility. The Office of the Student Affairs exercises oversight for the departments listed below.

The College House System

College Houses provide a crucial crossroads for faculty, students, distinguished visitors and alumni/ae. They are a “third space,” neither classroom nor residential hall, that fills a need intimately connected with the nature of a liberal arts education. The House System offers faculty and students a setting for chance encounters and informal moments as well as scheduled opportunities that spark students’ potential, engage their intellectual imaginations and connect them with alumni/ae and current and future notables in environments that are stimulating, comfortable and educational in the deepest sense.

The Houses are the meeting ground where students can interact and network among the extended College family. On any given day, students might encounter a government official, visiting alumni/ae, distinguished scholars, candidates interviewing for positions at the College, faculty hosting small discussions, or CEOs looking for talent. Students will create and host social events that bring them together with other members of the house and with the extended college community.

In these ways, the House environment integrates thoughtful deliberation and intellectual exploration into students’ daily lives. This frequent engagement with ideas and the cultivation of one’s own views will help students to form habits of thought and analysis that will vitalize their professional and personal lives. There are currently five College Houses: Bonchek, Brooks, New, Ware and Weis College Houses.

House Dons and Deans

A House Don and a House Dean oversee each College House. Members of the Faculty, the House Dons provide leadership in fostering the intellectual life of the Houses. As members of the Administration, the House Deans work closely with House residents on a daily basis in a variety of capacities. The Dons and the Deans advise the students who conduct house governance and programming. Both the Dons and Deans occupy office space in the Houses.

House Seminar Rooms

House Seminar Rooms serve as meeting spaces for many first year Connections courses. This classroom component introduces students to skills of critical reading, critical thinking, oral communication and information literacy. At the same time, the members of a first-year Connections course typically live together in the same College House. Frequently, discussions of substance about ideas move between the classroom and informal living environment of the Houses.

House Governance

The structure and governance of each House is based on the explicit acknowledgment that students should govern many aspects of their social and residential life. When the Houses were founded, students proposed, discussed, amended and ratified governance structures that determined how each house is to be run. Students create and enforce rules of conduct for each house. This degree of student autonomy demands strong student leadership and requires that each student assume some responsibility for the success of the daily living environment.

Governed only by broad College policies, students lead a College House and control its social activities and programming budget. Faculty Dons and House Deans set the tone for the house, and guide and teach students as students experience the challenges of leading others, negotiating agreements and resolving conflicts.

Members of the Houses form teams that participate in intramural and recreational sports. Finally, the residents and their advisers also conduct a New Student Orientation that introduces each new generation of students to the culture and traditions of the House and the intellectual community that is Franklin & Marshall College.

House Initiatives

Since their conception, the Houses have encouraged and cultivated a number of initiatives to create opportunities for students to expand their thinking and provide new ways of engaging with the larger college community. Working collectively, the Houses have worked with students in developing The Liberal Arts Review, a student-led publication that addresses topics such as identity and freedom. The Junto Society, similar to the one Benjamin Franklin formed, encourages intellectual curiosity and civil discussion through a series of meetings throughout the years.