Living-Learning students faculty multipurpose room suites on grant

Call them “suites” or “residential communities,” but don't call them “dorms.”

The Northern Suites and the Suites on Maple East and Suites on Maple West—Phase II of Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Residential Revival—opened to 1,112 students this fall. The Foundation for IUP and IUP officials formally celebrated the opening of the new buildings with a ribbon cutting ceremony today. (See related story, Residential Revival Phase II Ribbon Cutting.)

These new buildings join the Suites on Grant and Susan Snell Delaney Hall, Phase I of the multiphase, $270 million project, and continue the living-learning philosophy of the Residential Revival.

“The character and atmosphere in our living-learning communities are different because the underlying philosophy is that learning is a dynamic process, and what happens outside of the classroom is just as important as what happens inside the classroom,” Dr. Jackie Beck, co-chair of the Living-Learning Committee, said. Beck is the director of academic planning and assessment in the College of Health and Human Services.

Studies have shown that students in living-learning programs more likely to have a smoother transition to college, report higher critical thinking and intellectual abilities, engage in mentoring relationships with faculty, enjoy higher grades, have a stronger sense of civic engagement and empowerment and make healthier choices about use of alcohol and other drugs, Beck said.

“The living-learning community within the suites means that students live together and participate in academically and intellectually engaging learning activities designed specifically for them,” Jack Makara, assistant director for assessment and academic initiatives in the Office of Housing and Residence Life, said. Makara also serves as co-chair of the Living-Learning Committee, which includes a representation of faculty and staff from throughout campus.

“While we have a rich history of promoting student learning and development in our residence halls for the past three decades, this project takes the concept of living-learning even further.”

The Suites on Maple East, which has the Center for Health and Well-Being in the first floor amenities space, offers learning clusters in food and nutrition, health and physical education, wellness and nursing and allied health. It also includes the substance-free lifestyle floor (for students opting for a lifestyle without tobacco, alcohol or other drugs).

The Center for Health and Well-Being includes the University Health Service, and the Counseling Center.

The Suites on Maple West, which has the Office of Housing and Residence Life and Student Housing Development in its first-floor amenities space, offers clusters for students in the College of Education and Educational Technology and a community for leadership and civic engagement.

The Northern Suites offers a natural science and mathematics living-learning community and a wing for intensified study.

The Suites on Grant, which has the IUP Applied Research Lab and the John P. Murtha Center for Homeland Security in its first-floor amenities space, offers the fine arts cluster, including the Picasso, Gillespie and Fosse communities.

Susan Snell Delaney Hall, which includes the African American Cultural Center, the Office of Social Equity and Civic Engagement, the International Affairs office and Information Technology Support Center, offers a cluster for students in Asian studies, a global awareness community and Piso Cervantes (Spanish) cluster.

“Our hope is to allow campus housing to be an academically engaging community in which in-class and out-of-class experiences are connected and students and faculty collaborate,” Makara said.

The living-learning concept also includes the following:

  • Physical spaces supportive of formal and informal faculty and student discussions (group rooms, seminar spaces and spaces offering technology to complement programming or discussion groups)
  • Student-to-student interaction and support via community assistants (formerly called resident assistants)
  • A residence hall council, the student-directed governance program
  • A peer mentor program with specially trained upperclass students paired with freshmen and other new students
  • Activities that enhance student interpersonal and multicultural awareness through performances, exhibits and displays

Each community assistant is charged with coordinating four programs each semester for residents and working closely with those identified as academic liaisons and academic contributors within the IUP community.

The academic liaisons serve as a resource for the residents and residence life staff members on an ongoing basis. The academic contributors are members of the IUP community who have committed to make a particular or distinct contribution of their talents in a living-learning community at one or more points throughout the academic year.

Academic contributors may offer tutoring in a specific subject area, present information in an area of expertise, participate in informal discussions, schedule some advising office hours in a residential facility, participate in a linked course with a residential component, introduce a new program or initiative to help facilitate student learning or retention or conduct research and scholarly activity.

Organized as part of the living-learning programming, the Crimson Connection is in its second year in Susan Snell Delaney Hall. This program links freshman students who are undeclared majors in the College of Health and Human Services and College of Fine Arts who are enrolled in specific freshman career exploration classes. These students meet for discussion and programming during “The Crimson Common Hour” in Delaney Hall throughout the semester.

Programming will also be offered in all the suites to complement learning activities related to IUP's Common Freshman Reader, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.