The Nevada Living Learning Community signals commitment to student success

New students, new residence hall rings in a new year

9/6/2012 - By: Natalie Savidge

Nevada Living Learning Community

Nevada Hall is one of only a few intentionally designed living-learning community buildings in the nation, according to Rod Aeschlimann, director of the Residential Life, Housing and Food Services.


Nevada Living Learning Community opening

"I'm so excited because it's all new, completely clean, brand new," Megan Wright, a University of Nevada, Reno freshman from Sacramento, Calif. majoring in biotechnology and chemistry said as she was moving into her fresh dwelling on Aug. 23. "I'm looking forward to getting away from home, meeting new people and starting a new life in general."

And as students, more than 2,450, moved in to the residence halls, the word "new" was heard resoundingly throughout the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

The latest addition to the University's growing student-centered infrastructure, The Nevada Living Learning Community, welcomed its first student residents. It is the first residence hall on campus to have dedicated classrooms and faculty offices, and it provides a centralized setting for the University's nine living-learning communities.

"It's really handy to have classrooms on the first floor and our rooms on another," Wright, a resident of the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) community for first-year women majoring in science, mathematics or engineering, said.

Living-learning communities are designed to integrate student learning with on-campus residential living, helping students make connections and develop friendships with those who have similar academic interests. Having students with similar interests live in the same area fosters the opportunity for students to help each other with homework, study together and share common interests. Students typically join a living-learning community in their freshmen year, and the connections they make can last throughout their college years.

"This building is one of only a few intentionally designed living-learning community buildings in the nation," said Rod Aeschlimann, director of the University's Residential Life, Housing and Food Services.

The University first offered living learning communities six years ago. The growth in living-learning communities from three initially to nine this fall reflects the increasing popularity of these residential options and the University's growing enrollment. The current living-learning interest areas are art, business, education, engineering, "first year," honors, journalism, pre-nursing and WISE (Women in Science and Engineering). Living learning communities range in size from 18 to 64 students.

Students and staff of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services and the Residence Hall Association celebrated the official opening of The Nevada Living Learning Community Hall outside the building Tuesday, Aug. 28 with some brief remarks and a plaque dedication.

"Our number one objective is to help you succeed and graduate," University President Marc Johnson said at the building's opening ceremony.

"It is political convention season and politicians like to get a round going," he continued. "When I prompt you, you say, 'me.'"

The crowd of more than 200 staff, faculty and mainly students in a sea of blue T-shirts specially designed for the opening readied themselves for their response.

"Who did the University of Nevada, Reno build this for?" Johnson asked.

"Me," the students responded.

"Who do we expect to have a great year and return as true sophomores?"

"Me."

"And who are we expecting to graduate in four years?"

"Me."

President Johnson chuckled and thanked students for their participation and then congratulated all who have been a part of the building, making it a place to live, a place to study and a place to enjoy.

"Have an exciting freshman year and go Pack!"

The plaque, which reads: "Designed to bring together in and out of class learning, this community will be a place where students can achieve their full potential through intellectual discovery and scholarly interaction," was presented by new Residence Hall Association President Jessica Goldstein to fellow student and Senior Residence Assistant Rebecca Zug.

The excited crowd moved inside for tours and snacks, and, in the building's first-floor multipurpose room, construction-paper flags designed and decorated from each of the nine communities hung on the walls. A second, similar flag representing the communities was placed into a time capsule to be buried on site. Future residents, staff and faculty will later recount this historic building opening with a cache of goods and information including photos, newspaper articles, staff biographies and a T-shirt.

The building name was identified by a committee of students, faculty and staff, and was approved by the Nevada Board of Regents in December 2011. The committee wanted "Living Learning Community" in the name to identify the building's programmatic design and to demonstrate a commitment to student success and completion.

"The committee felt strongly to identify the state of Nevada in the name as a way to honor a deep commitment to Nevada's future generations and to highlight the University of Nevada, Reno's emphasis on undergraduate education at a tier-one institution [referring to the University's ranking as a 'best national university' by U.S. News & World Report]," said Aeschlimann.

The Nevada Living Learning Community is five stories and approximately 124,000 square feet. Located at College Drive and North Virginia Street, it houses 320 students.

Residence hall assignments are up 8 percent over fall 2011, with more than 2,450 students assigned to residence halls this fall, compared to 2,267 assignments in fall 2011. The University of Nevada, Reno offers eight residence hall options in addition to The Nevada Living Learning Community.


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