Baylor Breaks Ground On North Village Residential Community

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    An artist's conceptual drawing of Baylor's North Village living/learning center to open in Fall 2004. Illustration by Elizabeth A. Day.
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May 16, 2003

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Baylor University broke ground May 16 on the $33 million, 212,000-square-foot North Village Residential Community, the first residential facility to be constructed on campus since 1967. Scheduled to open in fall 2004, the North Village addresses the second imperative of Baylor 2012, the university's 10-year vision - "to create a truly residential campus." Baylor's goal is to have at least 50 percent of undergraduates living on campus by 2012.

"By increasing the number of students who remain on campus during their college careers, we can foster a sense of community within the Baylor family and build a 'true learning environment' inside and outside of the classroom," said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. "With the North Village Residential Community, we set out to foster this sense of community on the Baylor campus by building student housing that will encourage the development of relationships and Christian community, in addition to making it more desirable for students to live on campus."

The North Village will be built between the new Dutton Avenue Office and Parking Facility and the Rogers Engineering and Computer Science Building. Two more residential villages are planned for Baylor during the next 10 years.


UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT

The complex represents the first partnership between Campus Living and Learning and an academic unit - the School of Engineering and Computer Science. Approximately 180 of the facility's 600 beds will be reserved for engineering and computer science students, who must apply and be admitted to the learning center. The other beds will be available for upperclassmen from other academic disciplines.

"This unique living-learning environment will foster a balance between serious intellectual pursuits and social interaction both in the classroom and living room, as well as encourage close interaction with classmates and with professors," said Dr. Benjamin S. Kelley, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Living-learning centers in residence halls have gained national support at major universities, such as the University of Maryland, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Ohio State University, for their ability to attract and retain exceptional students seeking a residential experience that is connected to their academic major or a related interest. Baylor's residential community will be the first in Texas.

"This residential village concept is a major shift from the university's dormitory structure, and it is designed with those in mind who are looking for something different," said Dr. Frank Shushok, associate dean for Campus Living and Learning. "We have done a lot of research, and we have learned that housing contributes to the building of community. This new environment is going to encourage interaction between upperclassmen and freshmen, provide easy access to faculty and promote the formation of study groups."

Among the features of the new residential village are:


• a centrally located Community Center with a computer lab and lounge area for students,


• dining facilities that will be open to all students on campus, and


• proximity to faculty offices and classrooms.

North Village residents also will take at least one course each semester with a cohort of other students participating in the learning center. The School of Engineering and Computer Science will hire a full-time staff person to direct the program and work with Campus Living and Learning in day-to-day coordination of the center. A steering committee of faculty, staff and students from Campus Living and Learning and the School of Engineering and Computer Science has been meeting since last September to plan for the new center.


FUTURE PLANS

Over the next five years, Baylor hopes to have living-learning centers for students interested in international affairs, leadership, Arts and Sciences, and fostering a civil society. In most instances, the centers will require students to enroll in at least one common course, will often require a special admission process and may require additional expectations.

The North Village was designed by the architectural firm of Hanbury, Evans, Wright, Vlattas & Co. The general contractor is BECK Group of Dallas.

The May 16 groundbreaking ceremony included Baylor regents, President Sloan, Dean Kelley, division of student life staff members, steering committees members, and engineering and computer science students. During the ceremony, special recognition was given to Sherman Jackson Jr., chairman of deacons and chairman of the building committee, and the congregation of Second Baptist Missionary Church, which had held worship services in their building located on the north side of the Baylor campus on M.L. Cooper Drive. Officials with the church and Baylor University completed a real estate transaction Dec. 22 that allowed the church to begin the process of building a new facility in Waco. Baylor is providing Edgefield Baptist Church as a temporary location for Second Missionary until the construction of their new church home is complete. The university plans to build a monument base for the church's historical marker in a garden area within the current property.

"We appreciate the help of Second Missionary Baptist Church in making this transition, and Baylor looks forward to continuing the mission of the church while pursuing our own mission of educating students in a Christian environment," Sloan said.

For more information, contact Shushok at (254) 710-6957 or Kelley at (254) 710-3871.

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