Established in 1998, today’s eight College Houses are a cornerstone of the Bowdoin residential experience. Sometimes referred to as the “living rooms” of campus, the houses sponsor special meals, study breaks, and other events for first-year affiliates. They also host campus-wide events from lectures and film screenings to apple picking trips and registered parties. Each College House is comprised of 20-30 members, has an officer team, and is advised by two faculty or staff advisors.
House residents are selected through an application process with input from faculty, deans, students, and staff. Successful selection is based on creative programming ideas and willingness to contribute to an energetic, cooperative team. All College House members gain leadership skills that often propel them to other highly visible leadership roles at the College. Once selected into a College House, students can choose to run for a house chair or programming chair role. There is no shortage of support for these leaders; the residential life directors, deans in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, and faculty and staff advisors all serve as advisors to the College Houses.
Programming in the Houses
Year after year, College Houses enrich our campus community with a diverse offering of programs. These programs, funded by the College, serve both academic and social purposes, ranging from debates with state politicians to broom-ball tournaments between houses. House members develop and coordinate all aspects of these programs, providing them an opportunity to expand their learning and skillsets outside of the classroom. If you are interested in programming with a College House, please contact one of the house officers, found below.
The active participation of faculty and staff in the College House system is vital to the system's success and to the College's overall mission. Faculty-College House engagement helps to integrate the academic and social spheres of the College as described in the Commission on Residential Life's Interim Report. Faculty members advising first-year students in a particular first-year residence hall are encouraged to be involved in the house associated with that residence hall. Faculty engage with the College Houses through many Kurtz fund-sponsored events and meals, join students for debates and film screenings, and bring their families to events like House trick-or-treating, cookouts, and concerts. Staff members are also an important aspect of the College House System. Each house is paired with a staff advisor - someone from either the Residential Life office or the Dean of Student Affairs office - whose primary purpose is to assist houses in engaging staff members as well as help bring campus-wide initiatives, like the Women's Resource Center, Career Planning Center, Outing Club, Religious and Spiritual Life, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, McKeen Center, Gender Violence Prevention and Health Center, into the College Houses. They also assist in the planning and organization of educational events at the Houses and help Houses develop their role as thoughtful leaders in the broader campus community.
College House Impact
All incoming first-year students are affiliated with a College House based on their floor in the first-year bricks. First-year students are paired with “buddies”, a College House member or group of members, that serve as peer mentors who help acclimate first-students to campus life at Bowdoin. Affiliates are encourage to participate in all College House events and have full access and privileges of the House.
The Kurtz Fund
The Donald and Barbara Kurtz Fund, managed by the Office of Residential Life, supports campus events that encourage learning and discussion outside the classroom and bring faculty, staff and students together within the College Houses.
- Dinner with Six Strangers
- Winter-Break Book Club
- Donuts with Diplomats
- Branching Out of Brunswick: Rural Maine Education Panel
- Guerilla Girls Talk and Reception
In previous years the Kurtz Fund has helped sponsor events with special guests including DeRay McKesson, Arlene Saxonhouse, Shaun Leonardo, Noam Chomsky, Mike Rosen, Jose Antonio Vargas, and Maine Inside Out.