Nearly a year after the Nevada System of Higher Education's Board of Regents approved the construction of a 320-bed living learning residence hall on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, the new building has been named The Nevada Living Learning Community and is progressing on schedule, with completion expected in May 2012.
A committee of faculty, students and staff was convened to generate naming options that reflected the unique design and purpose of the building and to make a final recommendation to University President Marc Johnson. At the Regents' Dec. 2 meeting in Las Vegas, the Regents' approved Johnson's recommendation of "The Nevada Living Learning Community," the name the committee unanimously recommended.
The committee wanted "Living Learning Community" in the name to identify the unique program and design of the building and to demonstrate a commitment to student success and completion.
"This building is one of only a few intentionally designed learning community buildings in the nation," said Rod Aeschlimann, director of the University's Residential Life, Housing and Food Services. "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.]"
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. Living together affords the students in the same area to easily help each other with homework, study together and share their common interests. Students most often begin living in the living learning communities as freshmen in order to help them make connections that will last throughout their college years.
The ultimate goal of living learning communities is to help students stay in school, excel in their areas of study and graduate. Nationally, as well as on the Nevada, Reno campus, research indicates that students of all backgrounds living on campus are more likely to persist and graduate than students who do not. And, there is a growing demand specifically for living learning communities. Thus having these living arrangements available can aid in the recruitment of more academically oriented students who are looking for this unique residential academic experience.
The University currently offers nine living learning communities, which will all be represented in the new hall, including journalism, business, WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), education, pre-nursing, engineering, first-year, art and honors. Living group size can range from 18 students to 64 students, and each floor of the building will accommodate up to four living groups. Twelve faculty offices will be located on the first floor to allow for easy and frequent contact between faculty and students.
"This is the first dorm project on campus to have dedicated classrooms and faculty offices within the building," Lyle Woodward, director of Facility Services, said. "The project is approximately 124,000 square feet with 320 dorm rooms, four classrooms and 12 faculty offices."
Not only is the building design unique, but so is its new name. Tradition at the University had dictated naming men's halls after counties and women's halls after Nevada plants. Nye, White Pine and Lincoln were all-men's halls, and Manzanita and Juniper were women's halls. All but Lincoln and Manzanita Halls have since become coed. Canada Hall, completed in 1993, was the first coed hall to be named and it was named after a conglomerate of Canada-based mining firms operating in Nevada that provided a donation that helped complete the building.
The next hall, Argenta, was named by a committee that included historians and residence hall students. Argenta was reportedly an option to name Reno and is derived from argentum or silver. The name that had been on virtually every list, but had not been used until the approval the new Nevada Living Learning Community, was Nevada.
West Coast Contractors was selected as general contractor for the $35 million project, located at the corner of N. Virginia Street and College Drive, following an open-bid process. The project will be funded through residence hall fee income, although other revenue sources may fund the academic portions of the building that will include four classrooms. Collaborative Design Studio is the Architect, and the environmentally sensitive project will be built to LEED standards as a Silver Building.
Parking for student residents during and after construction will be available in the Sierra Street Parking Complex, which was designed to accommodate parking needs for an additional future residence hall.
The new building is scheduled to be ready for students to move in beginning August 2012. For more information about living learning communities at the University and the application process, go to Living Learning Communities.