Res. Life to create Honors dorm

Residence Life intends to convert English Hall (most likely) or Shore Hall into a co-ed residence hall beginning in Fall 2013.

The backstory: to re-vitalize the Honors Program at Guilford College, last spring the faculty approved radical program restructuring. Along with newly implemented requirements, seminars and opportunities for student research, the Honors Program is ready to establish a physical space on campus to call “home.”

Honors Program Director Heather Hayton attended the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in Fall 2012 and discovered that, while Guilford’s new program comes closer to the models of excellence recommended by NCHC, it lacks one of the main characteristics: a prominently located Honors house or residence hall.

Since Honors Programs are created to provide academic “models of excellence for students and faculty across campus,” NCHC recommends that there be a visible Honors housing option as part of the residential life component.

The creation of an Honors Program residential space is an important step in acknowledging and promoting academic excellence across campus and relates to the College’s core values, said Hayton.

It is also an important part of efforts to recruit and retain students for Guilford, according to Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Andy Strickler.

“As we try to be competitive in recruiting academically high-achieving students, we are always looking for ways in which we can continue to attract them to Guilford,” he said. “Being able to offer a residential component to the re-designed Honors Program, one that encourages and develops a visible community of deep learning and scholarship, will be very attractive to prospective students and their parents.”

Over the past couple years, Assistant Academic Dean for Advising and Academic Support Barbara Boyette noted that several well-performing and academically focused students left Guilford to find environments more suited to their needs. The hope in establishing an “Honors Hall” would be that students would find a residence hall that nurtures their academic and intellectual pursuits and facilitates educational and social programming.

English Hall is being considered for several reasons. There is currently a Faculty-in-Residence program in English Hall. Dana Professor of English Jeff Jeske resides in the hall and currently offers academic programming for the small halls (English, Mary Hobbs and Shore Halls) based out of English Hall. In an Honors Hall environment, there would be further opportunities for engagement in the academic program and residential interaction with faculty on campus. English Hall’s central location would also provide visibility for academic excellence.

While English Hall is currently the only all-male residence hall, traditionally the demand for single-sex housing for men is not high. When Residence Life held a called meeting in English two weeks ago to discuss the proposed change, only one RA and no residents attended.

Most spaces in English are filled by Residence Life after the lottery process, whereas the female halls traditionally fill by self-selection during the lottery process. The size of English Hall (only 24 rooms) also suits the number of Honors Program students, which currently stands at 75 students but is expected to grow to 100 students in the next few years.

In the first years of the Honors Hall’s existence, English Hall could house both Honors and non-Honors students, depending on student interest. Non-Honors students would have to agree to live by the expectations of the Honors Hall, just as students in other specialty halls agree to live by certain rules.

If it is determined that English Hall is not the appropriate place for the Honors Hall, the second option would be Shore Hall. As the College has two women’s halls, it may be the more equitable choice, although it lacks the Faculty-in-Residence piece that English has, and traditionally has had more demand from female students who want to live in a single-sex hall.

The Honors Program and Residence Life believe that an Honors Hall is an important step toward improving Guilford’s academic reputation that will benefit current students and help attract future students.

Please direct any feedback regarding which physical location will become the Honors Hall to [email protected]