Today’s students have expectations for housing that go beyond simply a place to hang their clothing, to read a few textbook chapters and to sleep. Students are accustomed to living accommodations with the latest amenities including technology, space to interact with friends and even single bedrooms. Because they have these comforts and conveniences at home, they expect to have them at college also. In the Division of Student Success, our biggest accomplishment happened on October 4, 2012, when we opened Mosaic Village and simultaneously opened the door to a new era in housing for JCSU. The 124,000-square-foot facility on West Trade Street provides apartment-style living for 300 JCSU students and students at other institutions of higher education in Charlotte. From the moment we opened the doors and witnessed students and community leaders gasp in awe and excitement, I have been proud that we have one of the best options for housing in the greater Charlotte region. Mosaic Village is also proof of our commitment to the Northwest Corridor by serving as a model for how public/private partnerships can spark economic development and increase community pride.
What was your biggest challenge?
When I reflect on our biggest challenge, I turn again to student housing. In February 2013, a few residents in Myers Hall found evidence of bats in the building. We focused our efforts on working with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control and Carolina Pest Control to solve the problem. The safety of our students is paramount, so we decided to take prudent, precautionary measures and close Myers Hall for the remainder of the spring semester. The Office of Residence Life worked quickly to develop an operational plan to relocate students to other residence halls. It was certainly a challenge to move 93 students in the middle of the academic year. It is a real testament to the professionalism and dedication of our staff as well as the maturity of our students that we were able to make it happen with minimal disruption to the students’ lives.
What is your forecast for the 2013-2014 academic year?
The upcoming year will be an exciting one for the Division of Student Success because we will be able to enhance our support offerings to students as a result of a two-year $150,000 grant from The Duke Endowment. The grant will allow us to hire two case managers who will address personal and health-related needs that often become barriers to academic success. Therefore, the University can develop and implement proactive student services and establish a stable, consistent system of care for students in times of critical need. I am convinced that this will help increase our retention rate while contributing to the personal development of our students.
Student housing will be a bright spot for us again in 2013-2014, because Duke Hall, which was built in 1940, will receive an energy efficient facelift and a renovation that will bring the three-story building into the 21st century as a contemporary residence hall. Funded by The Duke Endowment, the renovation will further the University’s sustainability efforts and provide 36 residential suites that will house 70 students. I’m thrilled that we will be able to offer our students another option for modern living in fall 2013. This is just another way that JCSU offers a vibrant campus experience to complement the intellectual rigor that occurs in our classrooms.