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Archives > September 2014 > Rejuvenating Student Spaces: University of Jamestown Updates Student Spaces

Rejuvenating Student Spaces: University of Jamestown Updates Student Spaces

New and returning University of Jamestown students are enjoying the results of a $4 million campus-wide residence hall renovation project, one that emphasized community, safety and quality.

By: Erin Klein

Established in 1883 as Jamestown College, UJ is a private, liberal arts university that focuses on a student-centered experience that prepares students academically and for sound professional programs. The Princeton Review has named UJ a "Best Midwestern College," and U.S. News & World Reports has consistently ranked UJ in the Top Tier of its "Best Colleges" ranking each year.

With UJ's "Journey to Success" plan, students are given a guaranteed internship and a four-year graduation guarantee. This approach allows UJ faculty and staff to assist students both inside and outside of the classroom, offering personalized advising and mentoring, career counseling, and self-assessment tools.

More than 80 percent of the university's approximately 1,000 students live on campus at the residential liberal arts university established in 1883 and located in Jamestown, N.D. First-year students are traditionally assigned to either Kroeze or Watson Hall and continue to identify themselves as "Kroezeites" or "Watsonites" throughout their college years and, sometimes, even beyond.

Dean of Students Gary Van Zinderen says the upgrades are a direct result of suggestions that came out of student focus groups held during the previous academic year. "We are very appreciative of our students' insight," he says. "Student input was instrumental."

At Watson Hall, the University's oldest residence hall, work was begun during the spring semester and continued throughout the summer on a new addition to the west side of the building. The addition houses the building's new main entrance, an elevator, a Resident Director's office, new restrooms and shower rooms for each floor, and expanded lounges with kitchenettes on the second and third floors.

In the main portion of the building, originally built in 1930, the traditional two-student rooms were converted into suites with two bedrooms and a living room per four students. Other work included aesthetic improvements in the hallways, new electrical lines and upgraded lighting, plumbing improvements, and installation of air conditioning and a sprinkler system. The hall has an 83-student capacity and is designated as the home of first- and second-year honor students.

Named for Dr. Barend Kroeze who served as Jamestown College president from 1909 to 1946, Kroeze Hall is traditionally a first-year student residence hall. Featuring a unique architectural style, with rooms that frame an interior courtyard, Kroeze houses 214 students. The hall is divided into ten smaller sections, with each section offering a lounge, washer and dryer, and bath area. Along with those ten smaller lounges, the main lounge in Kroeze is also a site for campus programming and features a flat-screen television, gas burning fireplace, grand piano, living room furniture, and a pop machine.

In Kroeze Hall, maintaining the residents' strong sense of community while creating more open space was important. "Kroeze is at the heart of campus and has long been important to our first-year students," Van Zinderen says. "Students develop strong connections there, but the building definitely needed attention."

Van Zinderen says Kroeze Hall, originally constructed in 1957, wasn't high on the priority list for improvements-in fact, it might have had a much different fate-until students shared their opinions in the focus groups. "We were ready and willing to tear it down, but we ended up with a great product with the modern amenities students want, together with a great community experience," he says. "Kroeze Hall has truly been rejuvenated."

Each of Kroeze's five sections has a new bathroom. Shower rooms that were previously separate from the bathrooms were converted to lounge space with new windows, allowing for more light to enter hallways.

"Kroeze has always been a free-flowing place where residents come and go from each other's rooms," Van Zinderen says. "Now, each wing is a supersuite with better lighting and warmer textures and colors."

Kroeze's laundry facilities, previously located on each floor, are relocated to the lower level with the benefit of wireless notification when residents' wash and dry cycles are complete. The renovation includes a sprinkler system, new windows, and air conditioners. Eventually, the Kroeze courtyard will be upgraded into a destination for entertainment and gatherings.

Other residence halls received enhancements, including sprinkler systems, air conditioning, and updates to hall lounges. Security was also an important part of the overall plan. Entries to all campus residence halls were converted to a keycard access system.

Westminster Hall, which was built in 1959, originally housed the post office, bookstore, and dining facilities on the first floor, with the chaplain's office and the student union on the second floor. Currently, Westminster Hall houses the student union, new C-store, Jimmie Grill and dining facilities. In 1997, over half a million dollars was invested toward accomplishing a complete renovation of the Westminster Hall kitchen facilities. A few years later, in 2002, there was another 300,000 dollar investment made toward further renovations. With those changes, the dining room was completely refurbished.

As part of the most recent renovations, the cafeteria in Westminster Hall has also undergone a complete renovation with the goal of emphasizing fresher, healthier food, as well as more flexibility in how the space may be utilized. Now known as Knight Hall, the cafeteria offers a warm, inviting space that feels more like a dining room and can accommodate more diners than it did in its previous configuration. "It's very much an anchor of our community experience," Van Zinderen says. "Now we've developed a more flexible, enjoyable experience for our students."

As University of Jamestown grows and changes, its residential campus philosophy will continue to be a cornerstone of the overall student experience. "It's about intentionally maximizing community interaction and making connections," Van Zinderen says.



About The Author
Erin Klein

is Assistant to the President at University of Jamestown. She has been with the University for 12 years, also working in the areas of marketing and public relations.



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