The colleges of Murray State

Robert Valentine Senior lecturer of advertising

Column by Robert Valentine, senior lecturer of advertising

Do you know of which college you are a member?

The automatic response is usually, “Of course! I’m at Murray State! Go Racers!”

Murray State is, of course, your university. But what’s your college?

“I’m undecided. I don’t have a college.”

Wrong again. Everyone at Murray State, from the newest freshman to the oldest faculty member, is assigned to a residential college as soon as the enrollment is complete or the contract signed. Know it or not, you’re in a college. Look at your ID.

Ironically, the reason you have a residential college has nothing to do with residence. You can commute from Memphis, Tennessee, or Louisville, Kentucky, if you like, but you’re still a member of one of the eight residential colleges. You can be a non-traditional sophomore who lives in a three-bedroom ranch-style house with a husband, two kids, three dogs and a psychotic cat, but you have a college, too.

Relax: there are no dues, you don’t have to buy a special tie or attend meetings. You will still graduate (after you finish your 120 hours and pay your parking fines), and your degree will be just as good.

But if you get lonely, or if you’re going through a sports withdrawal, you might want to visit your new home away from home. There are people just like you – and some who are very, very different. There are all kinds of athletic teams that  need your help, philanthropic efforts that could use  another hand and arts groups – from choirs to theatre troupes – that would love to see you show up and express an interest.

All these people are based around one of the eight residential colleges. The building, however, is not the college. The college is made up of the people: about 1,000 students, 80 faculty and around 80 staff members. That’s the college of which you are actually a member.

The thinking was – and is – that you’ll survive your first year if you are a member of a definable group. You can make friends, get involved and get help when you need it. From academic problems to medical issues to financial or romantic crises, your college is a first stop for help and support.

I mention all of this because Regents College is looking for a new faculty head. You could help. The faculty head is the position that turns a mere dorm into the center of a residential college. Most faculty members are, in fact, human. All of them know their way around a campus and its bureaucracy, so having someone like that at your side can make the trip through the Oz-like land of post-secondary education much, much easier, and perhaps, even fun.

The best seven years I ever spent on any campus were as the faculty head of Elizabeth Residential College. There were late nights, early mornings, busy weekends, serious discussions and lots of laughs. And meetings; how could I have forgotten the meetings?

And changed lives. I can’t forget that: people who wanted to drop out but stayed and graduated. People who were lost and got found – not by me, but by friends or other faculty. That was big.

If you’re a faculty member who is looking for another way to make a difference, this is it. If you’re a student who knows a professor who cares and communicates, make the suggestion. If you’re a colleague who sees the potential in one of your friends, open that door.

I guarantee you will change the life of the faculty member who chooses to lead one of the eight colleges at Murray State. I can also guarantee that person will change the lives of others.

The colleges are what make your time at Murray State different, whether you know it or not. You can help to maintain that difference and to expand its influence for good. The Rhinos of Regents need your help.

We all do.