The Commons System

The Commons is Middlebury’s unique living-learning residential system that weaves the academic, social, and residential components of college life into an integrated community experience. Through the Commons, we provide students with the structure and support for exploration and growth, and the freedom to govern their own intellectual, cultural, and social development.

Each Commons is a community of about 500 students, first-years through seniors, living in a cluster of neighboring residence halls and houses. Since the fall of 2008, the Commons system has followed what is known as the 4/2 model. Students live in Commons residence halls their first two years at Middlebury. Then, as juniors and seniors, they may choose from the range of housing options available to them across campus, while remaining members of their original Commons.

More than 30 assigned faculty and staff members regularly participate in each Commons’s community meals, share their expertise, and help develop programming of interest to their particular community. Each Commons—Atwater, Brainerd, Cook, Ross, and Wonnacott—is named after an important figure in Middlebury’s history.

The Commons also offer residential programming inspired by academic events taking place on campus. The success of these programs and the College’s commitment to the facilities that support them—residence halls, dining halls, and event spaces—mean that many social and academic activities are centered in the Commons. There are also a number of social and cocurricular programs provided by residential life to build a strong and lively community.

Commons Team
Each of the five Commons is supported by a team of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to helping shape an environment that challenges assumptions, engages imaginations, and broadens horizons.

Commons Head
Seasoned faculty members set the intellectual tone of each Commons and lead these communities while maintaining their identities as scholars and teachers. They live in houses adjacent to campus, frequently host student events on campus and in their homes, and work directly with students and faculty colleagues to create a vibrant educational atmosphere in their residential community.

Commons Dean
The deans are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the residential experience for their students. They provide academic and personal support, assist in resolving conflict, and enforce College policy. Along with the Commons heads, the Commons deans help bridge academic and residential experiences, playing a crucial role in supporting Middlebury’s goal of a seamless educational environment.

Commons Coordinator
The Commons coordinator oversees all daily operations, advises students on the logistics of residential life, and creates a welcoming atmosphere in the office.

Commons Residential Advisor (CRA)
CRAs are recent graduates who live in the residence halls and work with the Commons team to build community, support the student residential-life staff, and provide after-hours support for students.

First-Year Counselor (FYC)
FYCs are returning students who apply through a highly selective process to serve as live-in mentors in first-year residence halls to provide academic guidance and personal support for Middlebury’s newest students.

Resident Assistant (RA)
RAs are students who serve as community leaders in sophomore dorms. They are friendly and accessible, maintain residential standards, facilitate a sense of community, and work directly with Commons heads, deans, residential advisors, and other staff. RAs are also liaisons to facilities management and other offices on campus.

Community Assistants (CA)
CAs are students who live in junior and senior houses, special interest houses, and residence halls. CAs support students’ residential experiences in a variety of ways.