Monroe Hall facilitates science, math community

Monroe Hall began housing a Living-Learning Community in fall 2013. The LLC allows students to live with the same individuals who they take classes with and offers other academic opportunities, such as tutoring and additional academic programs. The community aims to provide a network of academic fellows for support and to foster discussion and application of schoolwork outside of structured classes. Monroe was recently renovated, and it began housing students in January 2013. Monroe housed exclusively transfer students for the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters.

After it was renovated, Monroe received a Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. This award acknowledges that Monroe has met criteria for sustainable buildings set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Assistant Vice President for Facilities & Planning George Stooks came up with the idea for making an academic connection with the scientific innovations that are used to make Monroe energy efficient.

“The science orientation grew out of the college’s commitment to sustainability,” Dean of Residential Living Celia Easton said.

The preliminary LLC was for freshmen who had declared physics or biology majors or who were undeclared; these students would then take classes together. Distinguished Teaching Professor of Physics Stephen Padalino science discussions and tutors were available in the building.

Suraj Uttamchandani, a senior math major, holds office hours in Monroe for the LLC calculus classes.

“I feel like I have a great relationship with my students there, and it’s nice to see them work together as a group,” Uttamchandani said.

Department Chair and professor of physics Charlie Freeman said that much of the physics staff has given informal presentations to the students in the LLC.

Easton said that students who are interested in the same topics often band together to create support in the form of study groups.

Residence Director of Monroe Stephanie Haynes said that the atmosphere of Monroe has changed since the LLC program was implemented.

“It’s studious this year; it’s a quieter building. There are always students in the study rooms,” she said.

Easton said she hopes the LLC will grow and develop over time. Restrictions on majors incorporated into the LLC could change, but she said the focus would remain on science. Variety in academic focus would allow more comprehensive discussion of scientific topics.

In the 2014-2015 school year, 80 spaces are reserved for physics, biology or education majors. The other half of Monroe residents will be returning students who are placed there through housing selection. Residents in their first year will be required to enroll in a common set of classes that correspond with their respective majors. Second, third and fourth-year student residents can have any major and do not take required classes; however, they are able to participate in residence hall programs.

Residents of the LLC will participate in a summer reading program along with Dante House residents, in which all residents will read the same book and participate in a book discussion in August. Members will also collaborate on a community service project.

Applications for those seeking to live in the Monroe LLC for the 2014-2015 school year are due May 4.