August 17, 2006

Focus on student success Media students will take up entire residence hall

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — About 100 students in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this year will bunk with roommates who share their interest in training for careers in mass media.

Starting this weekend, when freshmen and returning students move back to SIUC for the fall semester, Kellogg Hall will be inhabited 100 percent by students from that particular college. It's a move University officials hope will make it easier for students to perform well academically and be more comfortable socially.


Media Advisory

New students move into SIUC's residence halls on Friday, Aug. 18, and returning students move in on Saturday, Aug. 19. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 21.


Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, said the initiative will benefit students in the college.

"We are excited about this project because it will give our students a great opportunity to continue to learn in their living environment," Pendakur said. "The housing staff and our college faculty and staff have worked together on this project and I am certain it will be successful."

For years, the University has offered Freshman Interest Group floors for freshmen students taking some of the same classes and various academic emphasis floors, aimed at students with similar interests.

Clare Mitchell, assistant dean of student affairs with the college, said the idea to dedicate Kellogg Hall to those students arose early this year. Students from the college took up two of the three floors already, Mitchell said, and there are many advantages to students living with their classmates in the same building.

"They are in a lot of the same classes so there's this camaraderie and that helps with things like class attendance," Mitchell said. "There are things they do like study sessions together, loaning books to each other and taking notes in class if someone is sick that really help. "

Mitchell said students who get involved with their peers early have a better chance at finishing their degrees. "It's a good retention tool," she said. "It gives them a much better chance of success."

The building, located in the Thompson Point area, houses 105 students in double rooms with suite bathrooms.

The living arrangements will mix students from the college's three academic areas — journalism, cinema and photography and radio-television — in a group setting. In a way, the arrangements reflect trends in the media, where such specialties are giving way to the need for fluency in all forms of communication arts, Mitchell said.

"Most of these majors require a team effort now, whether it's making a film or television commercial or writing a story, you need a lot of different skills," she said. "The sooner they get to know each other, the better off they are.

"We're trying to get students to think of themselves as members of a college and not just a department," she said.

The building also will feature a new computer lab in the basement, where students can work on papers and other assignments in a group setting. The college will hold a grand opening for the new lab in late September.

Also, William Recktenwald, a lecturer in the School of Journalism, will serve as faculty coordinator at Kellogg Hall. He will keep office hours on site and act as a liaison between students and faculty, Mitchell said.

The residents also will receive a lot of support programming, she said. That will start this weekend, when students begin moving in for the start of the fall semester. Mitchell said the college has a large number of faculty and staff organized to help students move into Kellogg Hall.

In subsequent months, the college has a host of activities planned for students there. Those include an academic success workshop, tours and demonstrations at the Communications Building's New Media Center, a workshop titled "Successful Papers 101," a Halloween trick-or-treat, a Thanksgiving potluck and stress-buster workshops around finals week.

The college also will hold intermittent "Food for Thought" events, which involve college faculty and staff having dinner or lunch with students living at Kellogg Hall, Mitchell said.

"We think this will be a nice combination of academic and residential," Mitchell said. "Retention is really important. We don't want anyone to struggle with the residential part of life here."

Kathie A. Lorentz, housing program coordinator with University Housing, said Kellogg is one of three residence halls at SIUC dedicated to particular study areas. Bailey Hall last year became home to male students in the College of Engineering. This year, Pierce Hall will become home to female engineering students.

Lorentz said the University's experience with Bailey Hall is encouraging.

"The students there did so well academically that it showed there was a lot of studying going on there," she said. "They were working together."

Lorentz said more dedicated residence halls could come in the future as individual colleges discover the advantages of having their students live together. She said although only freshman students are required to live on campus, students tend to return year after year to living arrangements that group them with others of similar interest.

"That means there's a mix of students, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, and that's a good thing," Lorentz said. "The younger students have older ones nearby who have been through their classes. They can say, ‘hey, hang in there.'"

Enhancing housing programs that acknowledge the diversity of student needs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.