Thursday, October 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

The second senior class: New opportunities for colleges

Known at one time as Austin Hall, this former student residence at Ohio Wesleyan University has been converted into a living and intergenerational learning community for alumni, professors, friends of the university, and select Ohio Wesleyan students. Residents enjoy full use of the college's athletic and library facilities, can attend campus cultural and sporting events, and have the opportunity to audit college courses. Courtesy photo

By
From page A17 | November 18, 2012 |

By John L. Gann Jr.

To entice students, universities commonly boast of offering the “biggest,” the “oldest” or some comparable superlative.

Perhaps the campuses that most stand out, though, are those that can claim the ultimate adjective — the “only” — and maintain it for a long time.

Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, 20 miles north of Columbus, may not immediately come to mind in the superlatives department. But the 1,850-student campus became an “only” more than 20 years ago. Favorable national publicity notwithstanding, it remains one today. OWU runs the only college-affiliated mixed student/faculty/retiree housing facility in the United States. There may be a lesson here for other colleges.

Austin Manor, once a 150-room student residence slated for demolition, is now a four-story, 60-unit age-integrated apartment building home to about equal numbers of students, senior citizen alumni and working professionals plus a dozen faculty.

The mix is intentional — 20 units are reserved for students — and no age group is allowed to resegregate the building. Both student and non-student names appear on long waiting lists to get in.

Of course, private apartment buildings near many campuses nationwide unintentionally house both students and non-students, but usually the only experience the two groups share is writing the rent check every month. And age-restricted retirement developments are found near a number of campuses that have varying levels of attachment to the schools but no student residents.

Austin Manor is, however, a category by itself. It makes unmatriculated residents, who pay $500 to $1,400 monthly for their living units, in effect into honorary students living right on campus. They can daily associate with undergraduates, audit classes, attend theatrical and athletic events, and use campus swimming, exercise and dining facilities — all within walking distance.

Accidental innovation

Counterintuitively for an academic setting, Austin Manor is the product not of research or planning but of imaginative response to a happy accident.

In 1988, with his official residence not yet ready, incoming president David Warren moved temporarily into a campus dormitory. Studying at Yale, Warren had lived in an apartment building that was home to both students and older non-students. Impressed with both experiences, Warren reinvented a 1923 women’s dormitory as a permanent intergenerational residence.

Scholarly research affirms the benefits to elders of daily association with young people. Frequent contact with older adults who are neither faculty nor doting relatives likewise benefits students, since it is with such people that they will have to interact with successfully once out of school.

But despite this insight from the behavioral sciences, before OWU no college or university had made it apply to any campus housing. And none has since.

It’s not that it hasn’t been popular. Ruth Melvin, a 1932 graduate who lived in the building as a student and later as a retiree, contrasted retirement homes where “people go to die” with Austin Manor where “people come to live.”

For students, in the words of one living in Austin Manor, “there’s only so much information you can get from a class, but these people (older residents) have experienced life.”

Outside the box

In coming years it will be more incumbent than ever for colleges and universities to think outside the traditional academic box, as OWU has done, in putting its resources to productive use.

In many schools, student demand for campus lodging as well as other college services and amenities may well soften. High college costs and the growth of lower-cost distance learning programs that award both credits and degrees to students living anywhere are already starting to change the picture.

But college towns and university neighborhoods will still need people around — students, retirees, visitors  or working families — to support their economies. Retirement experiences in mixed-age settings are just one innovation colleges make possible that can help accomplish that.

Will we need to hope for more happy accidents like the origin of Austin Manor? Or can college and college town leaders find other ways to achieve innovative economic value? Those colleges and college towns are likely to do best that can make themselves into something special when a leafy four-year sanctuary for educating young people is no longer special enough.

— Austin Manor is among anecdotes about what colleges and college towns are doing, or could be doing, to strengthen and diversify their local economies included in John L. Gann’s book, “The Third Lifetime Place: A New Economic Opportunity for College Towns.” Reach him at citykid@uwalumni.com

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

.

News

 
Versatile cycling contributor Casale Jr. heads to Hall of Fame

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Pioneer students meet K-9 Officer Dexter

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

UCD Vet Med hosts animal ‘adoptathon’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Arboretum plant sale is Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Mercer Clinic benefits from pooch costume pics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Military Families seek help to send Hugs from Home

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

High-flying fun at University Airport

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Day of the Dead observance focuses on refugee children

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

DPNS has play group, preschool openings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Parents’ Night Out on Friday at Pole Line Baptist

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Fly-casting champion will speak to fishing enthusiasts

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Flea Market planned Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Carlton invites community to its Haunted Harvest

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

 
Day of the Dead folk art class set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Check out classic cars once again

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
A nose for mysteries: ‘Cadaver dog’ work more accepted by cops, courts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Cooperatives meet community needs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Co-op trivia

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Author visits Woodland for community book project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

We have confidence in Madhavi

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
I support John Garamendi

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Knowledgeable, experienced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
A leader our schools deserve

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

We need Sunder on board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Our view: Two more years for Garamendi

By Our View | From Page: B4

We support Archer, Adams

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

A force for good on board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Two are especially qualified

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

.

Sports

Blue Devils look for first home victory

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

 
Picture perfect: DHS field hockey finishes 14-0

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis tennis team takes title

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil soccer loss sets up important final week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Youth roundup: Hurricanes handle American River twice in one day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
JV/frosh roundup: DHS underclassmen shine in water polo events

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Features

What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

 
Hand sanitizer versus soap and water

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Girl Scouts join effort to keep kids healthy

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Name Droppers: Foster parent heads to First 5

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

.

Arts

If it can go wrong it will go wrong

By Michael Lewis | From Page: A10

 
San Francisco Symphony visits with conductor/pianist Zacharias

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
All are welcome at Fun Time Follies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DHS Madrigals host singing workshop

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

DMTC plans Halloween karaoke fundraiser

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
The Rhythm Future Quartet plays at Village Homes Community Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Jam with folk musicians on Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DHS Madrigals plan traditional English winter celebration

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘Under the Covers’ concert benefits KDRT

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Dorothy Foytik

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Mariana Brumbaugh Henwood

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, October 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B10