Housing hopes to expand living-learning communities

Once it receives feedback on the recently implemented living-learning communities, the UTM Office of Housing hopes to expand the model beyond Cooper Hall to other housing facilities on campus, said Ryan Martin, assistant director of Housing.

Living-learning communities, programs where students live together in a residential community based on their academic interests, were established in Cooper Hall in August 2016 for six academic programs — Agriculture, Criminal Justice, Nursing, Pre-Med, Engineering and Music. The communities are sponsored by their respective UTM academic departments.

By implementing these communities, the Office of Housing’s goal was to give residents a safe environment to grow both academically and socially. The communities offer students the opportunity to make friends in their academic major and provide support throughout their collegiate life.

Martin said living-learning communities are widely used in campuses across the country. Work to implement the first such communities at UTM began in September 2015 after results of a survey conducted by Brailsford and Dunlavey of over 2,000 UTM students showed that 88 percent of respondents were interested in living-learning communities.

“We do plan on expanding on the Living Learning Community model for both academic and lifestyle interests in the future,” Martin said. “However, we are currently wanting to focus on this pilot year and look forward to getting feedback from our students on how we can continue to build the program.”

There are new community rooms on each floor of the living-learning communities. Suites were converted to social and academic lounges for residents. The lounges are complete with 70-inch touch-screen interactive televisions, conference rooms and seating for up to 20.

The Cooper Courtyard was also updated with new furnishings such as a fire pit and hammock farm for residents to enjoy.

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