Academic Commons to open this fall

Academic Commons will open on campus this fall in an effort to provide more academic support and programming to first-year students in the housing villages.

Megan Bell, executive director of community learning and assessment, Student Success, led the initiative to create the spaces in the first floors of Copper and La Plata residence halls.

“We wanted a dedicated academically-focused area for our first-year students,” Bell said. “It can be a hard transition from high school and we want to set the tone that there’s a quiet space they can study and receive support right in their housing villages.”

Regan Welsh, student affairs in higher education graduate student, will lead programming for the spaces. Residence Life and Housing will also hire older students to provide study assistance to first-year students.

“Hiring student assistants will allow first-year students to learn strategies for reading and taking notes, time management and more from their peers,” Bell said.

The space is also open for faculty and staff who want to provide academic programming to students – like hosting a study session before a test, academic advising and more.

Students will have access to the spaces every evening, with computers and a printer provided by the Office of Information Technology, dry erase boards, group study tables with a television-laptop connection and individual study tables. Coffee will be available for students who study in the space as well.

“The spaces will open at night as a way to supplement the Excel Centers,” Bell said. “The centers provide tutoring, while these spaces will provide a quiet environment where students are living to help them study more successfully.”

Planning began fall 2016 and funding was approved in summer 2017. The design committee started in fall 2017 followed by construction in spring 2018. Residence Life and Housing, the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance and Vice Chancellor for Student Success funded the design, construction and furniture for the spaces. The estimated budget for the project was $166,000.

An open house for faculty, staff and students happens 3 – 5 p.m. July 31 at La Plata House. Root beer floats will be provided.

“The Residence Life and Housing staff are excited to meet with faculty and staff to explore academic programming opportunities to help our students be more academically successful,” Bell said.

— Photos by Jina Fagerburg, marketing coordinator, UCCS Auxiliary Services Marketing 

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