Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | November 29, 2010

Elon University’s campus residential life strategy to enhance student’s learning; A 10-year plan has been set in motion to help the housing community

By Caitlin Cavanaugh

Would more students live on campus if they were given the chance? Would it make a large difference to the college experience to have guaranteed housing for four years? The answer is yes. Studies show that the more students feel they are connected to a campus community they more prepared they are for life outside of college.

“Studies have shown that living on campus helps students in terms of achieving higher grades, higher attention rates, higher graduation rates,” Jeff Stein, special assistant to the president, said. “They report feeling more connected to students, faculty and staff. They are more engaged in their academics.”

Elon University’s Residential Campus Committee has currently established the $100 million Elon Commitment strategy, which will, in part, be a plan to build more residence halls on campus. “This is not just a plan about bricks and mortar and adding residence halls,” Stein said. This plan is not meant to be a building plan. This plan is meant to help enhance learning throughout campus.

“This is a plan to connect housing, not leave it on the fringe of campus disconnected, but to connect it to the mission, to the vision, to academics, to faculty and staff, to all members of campus life.” The plan will add new facilities and package old and new into “neighborhoods” on campus. Each neighborhood will have a theme, much like the learning communities that are in place now.

There will be demolition being done around Lake Mary Nell to build new dorms and allow for more housing.

The areas around the Alamance building will be transformed into one neighborhood targeted at housing freshmen that will be focused on Elon University’s history and traditions. “This is the most attractive part of campus,” Stein said. “This is a place that’s great for first-year students to be mentored, to be connected to other students, faculty and staff.”

This is where convocation and graduation take place, and the committee has recommended older dormitories here be remolded to include more common areas and other spaces for students to study and talk,

Renovation and upgrade is another main focus of this project. In this modern day and age students are expecting high-quality living conditions. The dorms by Lake Mary Nell are outdated and students don’t want to live there. By rebuilding this area Elon will be able to upgrade the dorms to reach student expectations for housing.

“Four houses of 150 students,” Stein said. “Each of those houses will have a classroom will have study space, will have gathering common space and a kitchen.” This is only one of the upsides to this part of campus. It is going to be named the Global Neighborhood and this is where international students will live. This is also going to be the new home of the Isabella Cannon International Studies Centre.

Other neighborhoods will include:

  • Colonnades
  • Loy Center for Greek Life
  • Senior Housing with townhouse-styled homes

This new residence life program is going to encourage students to stay on campus. “The idea primarily is to get more students living on campus,” Kevin O’Mara, professor of management said. “But not just physical living on campus, but being on campus in the evening, during the weekends.”

The Elon Commitment strategy is a 10-year plan, but phases are currently under construction now. The Loy Center and new Colonnades buildings will be finished by the fall of 2011 and the other buildings are soon to follow.

“I think the most important thing for this initiative to be successful is that it’s not thought of as a residential life project,” Connie Book, the associate provost for academic affairs, said. “This is not student life, this is a community project. It is going to take the commitment of student life and academic life.”

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