Dear Notre Dame Undergraduates,
I write today with an announcement about how we will be forming two new undergraduate residential communities in 2016-2017. Next fall, two new residence halls will open, supporting the University’s long-term priority to relieve overcrowding conditions in our current halls. These new facilities will also make it possible for us to significantly advance renovations of existing halls.
Our undergraduate residential system is a treasured and distinctive component of a Notre Dame education, and the University is dedicated to its continued vibrancy. The aspiration of our halls is to build Christian community, where each student is known individually, feels a sense of belonging, and is encouraged by our Catholic, Holy Cross tradition to grow in both mind and heart. We are proud that our halls bring together students from different backgrounds, varied majors and interests, and across class years to learn from and care for one another. Rectors, hall staff, and in-residence priests and faculty are dedicated not only to the safety, but to the development and formation of their residents. Each of our halls boasts unique traditions, and friendships are formed in these communities that last the duration of a student’s time at Notre Dame and well beyond. The most important asset of our halls, therefore, is the people who reside within them and the connections residents form with one another.
Our residential buildings themselves support our ability to form these communities. As a result, the University continually invests in the facilities that our students call home. In 2006, University leaders adopted and began implementation of an undergraduate Residential Master Plan, which has guided hall renovations over the last decade. Through internal investments totaling nearly $56 million, this Plan facilitated essential physical improvements during the summer months to eleven existing halls, with a scope ranging from masonry restoration, roof replacement, new windows, and renovated community restrooms to elevator modernization. The 2006 Master Plan also identified overcrowding of our halls as a significant challenge. Thanks to generous benefaction, the opening of Duncan Hall in 2008, Ryan Hall in 2009, and the additional capacity added in the halls opening in fall 2016 will allow us to address that overcrowding.
Thanks to this stewardship and generosity, we now stand at a juncture where further enhancements to our residential facilities are possible.
The next stage of our Residential Master Plan must attend to necessary and continued exterior and infrastructure renovations. In addition, we seek to provide more improvements to the internal configurations of existing halls that facilitate the building of community (e.g., comparable social and study space) and modernize mechanical systems that impact the daily experience of students (e.g., consistency of heat, plumbing). This more comprehensive scope of the next cycle of renovations will require construction work in some of our historic halls that exceeds one summer and may span the entirety of an academic year. As a result, we have identified temporary, or “swing,” space for a hall community to utilize during its academic year of renovation. Our priority throughout this discussion has been consistent with our residential philosophy – whenever possible, we strive to ensure that established communities of people remain together, even if their physical location changes during a renovation.
New Hall Communities and Upcoming Renovations
I am delighted to announce that the Pangborn Hall community and its rector, Sr. Mary Donnelly, O.P., will transition permanently to the new women’s hall in fall 2016, creating the opportunity for the Pangborn Hall building to serve as a “swing hall” for the residence halls undergoing major renovations for the next few years. Applications will be accepted to fill the remaining beds in the new women’s residence hall that are not slated to be occupied by Pangborn residents. The practice of moving an entire community permanently has precedent at Notre Dame, most notably when the Siegfried and Knott women's communities moved smoothly into Welsh Family and McGlinn Halls in the late 1990s. This type of move will honor the personal relationships, traditions and strong sense of community that have been formed in Pangborn Hall and will continue to flourish among those same women in the new women’s residence hall.
The first communities to receive major renovations and live in the Pangborn “swing hall” will be the Walsh community in the 2016-17 academic year and the Badin community in 2017-2018. The renovations to Walsh and Badin will complete the halls identified for renewal in the 2006 Residential Master Plan. Morrissey has been designated as the first major renovation of the next cycle, with major renovations of other historic halls to follow annually. We also anticipate a continued set of summer renovations to halls that do not require the same physical investments as our historic buildings. Knott Hall will be the first hall to benefit from this type of renovation in summer 2016. Through these major and minor renovations, the University anticipates renewing eighteen of our undergraduate residence halls over the next decade.
The establishment of the new men’s hall community will differ from the women’s hall, yet it too follows prior precedence established with the opening of Duncan and Ryan Halls. Because more significant overcrowding currently remains in men’s halls, we will form a new residential community by inviting men across campus to apply individually or in small groups to live in this new facility. Like our existing hall communities, the students in the new men’s hall will intentionally vary across class year, majors, and backgrounds. I am very grateful and excited that Rev. Matt Kuczora, C.S.C., currently rector of Carroll Hall, has accepted the invitation to serve as the rector of the new men’s residence hall. Fr. Matt and the students who will reside in this new hall community will have a chance to establish a new identity and signature events, adding yet another set of traditions to our campus and a new set of connections among students.
We are truly blessed at Notre Dame to be stewards of and participants in our beloved residential tradition. I look forward with great anticipation to the opportunities that these transitions present not only for our new residential facilities, but also for the renewal of our existing halls. I and other leaders from the Division of Student Affairs and Facilities Design & Operations will host two information sessions for students who wish to learn more about the new residence halls. More information about these meetings and frequently asked questions can be found here.
In closing, thank you for all that you do to bring our residential aspirations to fruition – your commitment to supporting and caring for one another ultimately makes our buildings homes. We hope that these new plans will enhance your ability to build welcoming and enduring communities. Best wishes and prayers for each of you as we begin the spring semester.
In Notre Dame,
Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs