The Three Pillars

Telluride House is founded on three philosophical ‘pillars’ that form the basis of house life. They are intellectual inquiry, community service, and self-governance. While they are not formally defined, they are the set of ideals that support the mission of our house.


Intellectual Inquiry

Intellectual inquiry is the first pillar of Telluride House. While all three pillars are appreciated equally, housemembers have consistently prided themselves on being the leaders and best in academics at the University of Michigan. This spirit appears in house life as well, where the intellectual inquiry manifests itself in the form of:

Each housemember is responsible for planning and delivering a presentation to the house on any topic of interest. Once a week, the house meets to listen to each other's presentation, discuss, and debate the topic.  To get an idea of past pubspeak topics, check out the House Life page.  

Every semester, faculty fellows give a lecture to the house on a topic in their field of expertise. This is a great opportunity for faculty fellows to share their research with students in a more intimate setting than a classroom, allowing for greater discussion and debate. To get an idea of past faculty forum topics, check out the House Life page. 

Occasionally, Telluride House will invite guest lecturers to come in and speak with housemembers on a variety of issues. Previous events include an organized reflection on community service hosted by representatives from the University of Michigan's Ginsberg Center for Service Learning and an information session held by the University of Michigan's representative for a number of national and international scholarships such as the Goldwater, Truman, Churchill, Beinecke, Rhodes and Marshall, and Wallenberg Fellowship.

Telluride Lecture Series

The Telluride Lecture Series is a series of events organized by the Intellectual Affairs Committee in partnership with academic departments and student organizations at the University of Michigan. The events are open to the public, and vary year to year in topic and form. Previous TLS events include academic panels, lunch and learns, guest lecturers, and musical performances. 

Community Service

Community service is our second pillar. Through the yearly House projects, members of the Telluride House have created opportunities to make a difference in their community while also furthering the goals of the house and the association. Projects change from year to year, but have in the past included things like tutoring at local high schools, working with political refugees in Detroit, or meal preparation at an Ann Arbor teen center.

The house community service project allows the house to bond as we pursue a common goal; considering the emotions sparked in intellectual debate and differing opinions brought out in the course of self-governance, this pillar often gives us a moment to reflect that we are a kind of family with similarly good intentions at heart.

Current Service Projects

Food Gatherers is an organisation that runs food rescue and food bank programs to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in Washtenaw county. The organisation partners with 170 agencies and programs, providing direct food assistance in the form of hot meals, nutritious snacks or emergency groceries to low-income adults, seniors and children. House members typically engage with the organisation through one of the following avenues 1) Sorting through rescued/donated food at the food gatherers warehouse 2) Delivering sorted food packages to local food bank partners or 3) Prepping/serving meals at the community kitchen attached to the Delonis Center in Ann Arbor.

Peace Neighborhood Center (PNC) is an organization that provides programs for children and families affected by social and economic problems. MBTA has a joint program to address the gap in services for students enrolled at PNC. This projects provides the students with tutoring for the academic subjects that they are struggling with, assistance with writing college application essays and developing personal skills while providing mentorship in exploring future career pathways.

Democratic Self-Governance

Self-governance is our third pillar at Telluride House. Our autonomy and practice of self-governance is a unique aspect of the house in comparison to other organizations at the University of Michigan. At Telluride House, self-governance means…

House Meetings

Housemembers meet biweekly to make almost all administrative and budgetary decisions about how the house is run. 

Committee Work

Each housemember either holds an elected position or serves as a member of a committee:

  • Advisory Committee: evaluates housemembers on terms of scholarship, provides conflict-resolution, and manages the relationship between Telluride House and Telluride Association

  • Entertainment Committee: plans social events

  • Intellectual Affairs Committee: manages the Telluride Lecture Series and the faculty recruitment process

  • Recruitment Committee: manages the housemember recruitment process

  • Project Development Committee: plans house service projects

  • Logistics Committee: responsible for provision of supplies and security

 Responsibilities range from event planning to project management, depending on the committee. 

House Service Projects

Our community service projects are democratically developed and selected, meaning that all housemembers have the opportunity to submit a proposal for a house service project and vote on whether or not the Telluride House should sponsor and fund the project.

Student and Faculty Recruitment

New housemembers and faculty fellows are selected by current housemembers through an extensive review process. 

Whether sitting in Housemeetings, working in a committee, or attempting to amend the by-laws, there are countless opportunities for and experiences with self-governance inherent in house life.