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Sense of Place

West Virginia University: Lincoln Hall

University Business, Aug 2006

Enhanced opportunities for personal growth and intellectual development are what students residing in West Virginia University's new residence hall will get.

FUNCTION: A residential college housing 350 students and a faculty member and his family, with 11 faculty fellows (including the resident faculty member) teaching freshmen seminars and 25 "associate members" from the community dropping in to interact with students

CHALLENGES: While WVU has had a successful residential faculty leader program in its 11 freshmen dorms for a decade, each residential faculty member actually lives next to a dorm, not within it. Officials felt they could evolve that program even further, not only by designing an apartment for the faculty fellow in the residence hall, but also by adding the faculty fellows and community volunteers, explains Dean of Students David Stewart. The aim was to build a program modeled on the residential college concept in place at Oxford, Harvard, and other top institutions that will join a diverse cross-section of students and faculty to develop close academic and personal connections.

SOLUTION: The co-ed, newly constructed hall features suites with four students each (80 percent freshmen but 20 percent upperclassmen), a three-bedroom apartment for the resident faculty member, a library, a common room, and a lounge on each of the four floors. A multimedia theater (seating about 50) will be used for performances, to show movies, and for the freshmen seminars. The faculty fellows will teach on topics of their choice that will substitute for a required orientation course for first-year students. Community members, including a Methodist pastor, will explore mental and physical health-related issues, financial management, civic leadership, and local art and music with students. Residents will help develop the hall's outdoor gardens. "Students will be within an atmosphere and culture that will encourage them to do things they couldn't do in a larger university setting," Stewart says.

PROJECT COST: $14.5 million

COMPLETED: July 2006

ARCHITECT: American Campus Communities -M.E.