Poland gets finishing touches; McCormack gets learning community

Lindsey Reed

The first phase of the dorm renovation project on the Hill is drawing to a close, but other campus living changes are just beginning.

Western’s dorm renovation project will end in mid-July with the renovation of Poland Hall. About a month later, a change will begin in the Gateway Community program.

Poland renovations are 80 percent complete, said Don Stoneburg, project manager for the Student Life Foundation. The project cost $3.2 million.

Carpet is being laid on the seventh, eighth and ninth floors. But the bottom floors still need plumbing, flooring and painting work, Stoneburg said.

The size of the dorm rooms hasn’t changed, but each floor will be equipped with a kitchen, he said. Poland previously had three kitchens.

The bathrooms have also been reconfigured and designed to provide students with more privacy.

The renovations will add four extra rooms and house 408 female freshmen, said Kit Tolbert, director of housing operations.

The $50 million dorm project began in fall 2001 with McLean Hall.

McCormack Hall is also undergoing some changes. The Gateway program will move into the dorm next fall.

Gateway students were housed this year in Bates-Runner Hall.

More sections are being added to the Gateway curriculum as participation increases, said Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life.

Biology, philosophy, art and women’s studies classes are being offered next semester, Academic Coordinator Nathan Phelps said.

Courses in history, English, communication, psychology and astronomy were already included in the curriculum, he said.

There are eight different groups of learning communities in the Gateway Program, Phelps said. Each group takes general education classes together in the fall, but HRL wants to extend the program into the spring, Kuster said.

About 150 students have applied to participate in the program, Tolbert said. About 140 students participated last year.

McCormack can hold 370 students, Tolbert said.

HRL plans to get more applicants during the summer Orientation-Advisement-Registration dates, Tolbert said.

HRL Associate Director Tom Miles said a selection committee goes through the applications and looks at things such as GPAs.

“We have to review all of them very carefully,” he said.

Miles said it’s hard to allow students needing developmental courses into the program because they wouldn’t be able to take classes with other participants.

There was also a problem this year with student changing their schedules, Miles said.

“We learned we really have to work hard keeping students in their block,” he said.

Data has been compiled to measure the success of the program, and it will be examined next month during the Council on Post-Secondary Education conference in Lexington, said John Bruni, an associate professor of psychology.

The study will compare the grades and retention rates of participants to non-participants, Bruni said.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]