11 Nov 2011 Campus Life Renewal
by Sara De La Rosa | Photo by Jared Horn
Texas A&M University-Commerce welcomed a new residence hall to the southwest corner of campus this fall, the first step toward transforming the on-campus community.
“We want to create an environment for people to be able to feel like this is their home away from home,” said Dennis Koch, director of residential living and learning. “When you have housing that’s pleasant to live in and accommodates what people are used to in this day and age it really has the potential to help our students succeed.”
Open to freshmen students and members of the Regents Scholars program, the new $14 million residence hall is expected to improve the appeal of campus living, and make it easier and more enjoyable for incoming students. The new building includes community activity spaces, two-person suites with individual bedrooms, washers and dryers on each floor, Wi-Fi and more.
“The new structure will serve as a campus cornerstone that will greatly enhance the view of the campus as you approach the university from any direction,” said David McKenna, executive director of facilities. “The three-story structure will offer 85,970 square feet across three connected buildings, two wings connected on-end at a 90 degree angle. There are 250 resident beds and eight RA beds.”
The structure is the beginning of a four-building residence hall project which was initiated by a challenge from university president Dr. Dan Jones to make the university more residential by having 3,000 students living on campus in the next few years.
The West Halls, which were torn down to make room for the first new structure, were about 50 years old and according to Koch, not suited to today’s students who are much different than the students of past decades.
“Students today like their privacy but they also like to be involved and they like to be around other people,” Koch said. “So, the way we’ve designed the new hall is that we have two bedroom suites. You have your own individual bedroom but you also have a living room that you share with another person.”
Koch said that residence life is constantly changing to accommodate today’s students and help them make connections, learn from each other and take advantage of all modern campus living has to offer.
“Twenty years ago and even ten years ago campus housing was just a place to sleep,” Koch said. “Now we have smaller communities that are based on interest groups, like the Regents Scholars program, the sophomore experience and the Honors College. Future goals for campus life are to create more living and learning communities for all classes including graduate students to be able to help them reach their goals, personally and academically.”