Baylor Dedicates North Village Residential Community

News Photo 2309
Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. welcomes guests to the Oct. 22 dedication ceremony of the North Village Residential Community.
Oct. 22, 2004

by Lori Scott Fogleman

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As alumni returned to the Baylor campus for Homecoming, the university took time out to dedicate the first residential facility to be built at Baylor in nearly 40 years - the North Village Residential Community - during a ceremony Oct. 22 on the plaza outside the North Village community center.

"We know that the heart of the Baylor experience rests in the communion of ideas, experiences and relationships on campus," Sloan said. "The Baylor experience is not based on facilities, such as North Village, yet these facilities foster the relationships that make up the Baylor experience for each individual student. North Village has already helped energize campus life by enhancing the total social and relational environment at Baylor. North Village is the future in on-campus student housing at Baylor University."

The 221,000-square-foot North Village opened in August and is now home to 600 students who live in one of three distinct residential houses - University House, home to 175 men; Texana House, home to 169 women; and Heritage House, home to 254 women. The complex also includes a community center, Seasons 3:1 Café, spiritual walkway, faculty offices and classrooms, and amenities such as free cable television, Internet access and laundry facilities. It also is home to 100 students in the Engineering and Computer Science Living and Learning Center, one of three newly established centers on campus.

Truly Residential Campus

The North Village addresses Baylor 2012's first two imperatives - "to establish an environment where learning can flourish" and "to create a truly residential campus." Baylor's goal is to have at least 50 percent of undergraduates living on campus in the next 10 years. The residential village concept is a major shift from a typical dormitory that provides a place for students to sleep. Residential villages instead focus on the formation of learning communities through academic partnerships within the university, while fostering the growth and development of students and their relationships with fellow classmates. The new environment builds community and encourages interaction between upperclassmen and freshmen, provides easy access to faculty and promotes the formation of study groups.

Also participating in the ceremony was Dr. Eileen Hulme, vice president for student life, who spearheaded the building project. Hulme and her four brothers, Mark, Thom, Glen and his wife, Martha, and Vernon provided a gift for North Village Hulme Family Prayer Garden in memory of their parents, Louie and Gussie Hulme, who both graduated from Baylor in the 1940s.

Fierce Conversations

In her remarks, Hulme said a renewed emphasis on residential communities would lead to the kind of "fierce" conversations that allow individuals to discover the deeper aspects of their lives. These conversations take place every day in classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices, but in the residence halls the dialogue tends to be much different, Hulme said.

"They are about our struggles to succeed academically, to find a group of friends where we feel we belong, and to negotiate our life away from our families. They are conversations about faith and our essential meaning and purpose," she said. "The conversation begins in the classroom and spills over into the late night when the talk is not only about tomorrow's assignment but also about how this assignment relates to each student's dreams and aspirations."

Also during the dedication ceremony, Dr. Frank Shushok, dean for student learning and engagement, took the crowd back one year, to the time when construction of the North Village was in its early phase and Campus Living and Learning was receiving applications and deposits from students to live in the new complex. Skeptics had been saying that students would not want to live on campus after their freshman year and that the concept of living-learning centers would not be successful, but CL&L staff had a different view.

Sold Out

"We'd been saying and believing that if we built it, that if we really built a structure that captured particular values, offered unique experiences and beckoned to students' highest aspirations, they would come," Shushok said. "On Oct. 31, at around 3 o'clock, students began to pour into our office. By 4:30, a line had formed out the door. By closing on that day, we were completely overwhelmed by the fact that we had 263 more applications than we had places in the North Village. By 5:15, we had locked the door and our staff was literally dancing around the office celebrating with high fives.

"Community at Baylor, like the kind so many alumni experienced at Baylor a generation ago, would be moving back on the scene," he said.

The North Village is located on University Parks Drive between the Dutton Avenue Office and Parking Facility and the Rogers Engineering and Computer Science Building, a convenient location for Dr. Walter Bradley, Distinguished Professor of Engineering, and his wife, Ann, who serve as Baylor's first faculty-in-residence at the North Village.

The Bradleys reside in Texana House, home to women who are part of the Engineering and Computer Science Living-Learning Center at the North Village, as well as other students from a broad range of academic disciplines.

"It is our desire is for the North Village to become a special place of community and continuity, where we have students who live here their whole Baylor experience, where seniors mentor underclassmen and model what success is," Bradley said.

Baylor plans to construct two more residential communities in the next decade. But during the dedication ceremony, the focus was on the first facility, its current students and the many generations of Baylor students to follow who will call the North Village home.

"The North Village Residential Community stands as a testament to Baylor's commitment to students," Sloan said. "Environment is a key factor in fostering relationships and the relationships students build during college -- with one another and with faculty -- to help students be more successful in the classroom, and ultimately in life."

Baylor's president closed the ceremony by reading Psalm 133:1, the culminating verse on the Spiritual Walkway, which was donated by the 2004 Senior Class as their gift to the university. The verse, Sloan said, is a fitting description of the importance of the North Village on Baylor's campus life.

"How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity."

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