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UW Residence Hall Improvements Target Student Needs


September 30, 2011 — Lacy Hooker didn't think she would be living so long in one of the residence halls on the University of Wyoming campus.

The Encampment junior has lived in one of the residence halls all three years she has attended UW -- Downey her freshman and junior years and Orr her sophomore year.

"I've had an amazing experience living in the residence halls," says Hooker, an anthropology major. "It's been a blast mostly because I got involved early. It's easier to live on campus, it's a lot closer to everything and there is always a lot to do. I've never been bored."

Data collected by UW shows that first-year students living on campus earn higher grade-point averages than off-campus students.

"The residence halls offer a diverse and exciting experience that really helps shape a successful college experience," says Patrick Call, Residence and Dining Services director. "Residential living is a valuable experience. Research conducted on a national level indicates that students who live in the residence halls are more likely to stay in school and graduate and are generally more satisfied with their college experience."

To help maximize student potential success, UW established a policy requiring new freshmen to live in residence halls during their first academic year on campus, but there are some exceptions.

Adding to the residence hall experience, UW has upgraded each of the buildings over the past seven years. White Hall, the final residence building on the renovation project list, will reopen with many new improvements in fall 2013. The first renovation was to McIntyre Hall in fall 2004. It reopened the following year.

All of the residence halls have already or will have structural improvements such as energy-efficient windows and lights, new paint, carpet and bulletin boards, larger laundry rooms, upgraded fire/smoke detection and alarm system, enhanced Internet service in most halls, ADA-compliant access to each building, an upgraded elevator system, locks with card swipe access to all rooms and new furniture on most floors.

Combined, the residence halls have a living capacity for 2,910 students; approximately 2,675 students during a typical school year are housed on campus, Call says. All rooms are designed for double occupancy.

McIntyre, Orr and Downey halls all have upgraded study rooms for students plus several community rooms in each. Among the other special interest floors (community rooms) are substance-free living; engineering; honors; same gender; 21 years and older; upper division students in Crane Hall; and Army ROTC.

Living in a community residence hall enabled Hooker to pursue her interests and later became a selling point for her to become involved with the Residence Hall Association, a liaison with Residence and Dining Services that works to create a "happy, healthy living environment for students."

"We want them to have a good experience living in the residence halls," Hooker says.

The residence halls also offer a Freshman Interest Group (FIG) for students, which is a "no hassle" way to begin life at UW, Call says.

A FIG is a group of no more than 20 students with similar educational goals who take selected classes together and share a common living arrangement. FIGs are organized to cover specific interests ranging from agriculture to zoology. Fifteen such options are available to students in the residence halls.

Next fall, Hooker will venture off campus for the first time in her UW career, but she wouldn't have had it any other way than living in one of the residence halls for three years.

"It's really been worth it and I highly encourage it for all students," she says. "There are just so many opportunities for getting involved."

Photo:
Lacy Hooker, a University of Wyoming anthropology junior from Encampment, enters a new study area between floors in Downey Hall. Improvements in the residence halls are meeting the needs of UW students. (UW Photo)

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