Temple Times Online Edition
    OCTOBER 13, 2005
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Classes to begin in 1300 Residence Hall

On move-in day in August, Honors Program Director Ruth Ost (second from left) greeted new and returning Honors students to the 1300 Residence Hall. 1300 is host to the Honors Living-Learning Community, a collection of more than 325 freshman and sophomore students on the building’s third and fourth floors.

Natalie Johnson lives around the corner from a pair of freshman music performance majors. Usually, their impromptu jam sessions — one plays standup bass, the other guitar — are enough to make her mute her iTunes just so she can listen in.

“I’m not musically inclined at all, but I can appreciate good music when I hear it,” she said as she walks down the hall from her room, pointing out the different majors of her floormates — biology, film, art, dance, math, business — as she passes their doors.

At the end of the hall, she gestures toward the room occupied by an art major.

“She has such beautiful artwork in there,” Johnson says of the student who commutes from Main Campus to Tyler. “I’m hoping that she’ll have some leftover or extra pieces that I’ll be able to frame and put up on my wall.

“And then there are the dance girls who will hang out in the flat, open space by the elevator and do their movements,” she added. “I swear I live on the most talented floor on campus.”

A sophomore resident assistant in Temple’s 1300 Residence Hall, Johnson loves being at the center of the Honors Living-Learning Community, a collection of more than 325 freshman and sophomore students on the building’s third and fourth floors.

Lucky for her, life in 1300 is about to get even better.

On Oct. 17, Temple will open its first-ever residential classroom, shifting 11 current courses from academic buildings into a new “smart” classroom in 1300. The space, which uses DVD players, projectors and other high-tech features, was converted from a seldom-used study lounge on the third floor.

“Being so close to the classroom will alleviate some stress for students,” said Johnson, who hopes to eventually take a class there.

If the project succeeds, Temple officials note, classrooms may be erected in other residence halls for use by the University’s many living-learning communities. In addition to Honors, Temple offers five other academic-themed housing arrangements, as well as areas for the Alliance for Minority Participation program and students interested in community service.

“We are piloting the use of a residential classroom with Honors with the hope of expanding it to other departments and schools and colleges on campus,” said Jack Niven, director of University Housing. “Our primary mission is no different than anyone else’s at Temple: We want students to succeed academically. Bringing professors and classes to the residence halls is a way to facilitate that.”

The 1300 classroom will not be limited to Honors students, said Niven, who called the space “an educational resource for the entire University community.” In fact, the classroom will host select sessions of the Emerging Leaders Seminar, an element of the Universitywide Student Leadership Challenge, and other special lectures.

“Having such a perfect space for presentations by professional speakers will be a great benefit for the students in 1300, Honors or not,” said Johnson, who, as an RA, often brings programming into the building for her fellow residents.

In addition to the classroom, renovations to 1300 have added a faculty office and a satellite location for Honors advisers.

Jayne Drake, an English professor who will teach her freshman-level literature and composition course in 1300, thinks the arrangement is a boon to students and faculty.

“I have long been a proponent of faculty getting out from behind their desks, podiums and lab tables in order to meet students on their own turf,” Drake said. “In an important way, the new facilities will help change the faculty-student dynamic.”

In the past, Drake said, the College of Liberal Arts has sponsored faculty visits to the residence and dining halls that were well-received by students and professors alike. She sees the 1300 classroom as a logical extension of that program.

“Students seemed surprised and pleased to have real live professors come to them,” Drake added.

Beyond the academic benefits, campus living-learning communities nurture students’ social, interpersonal and cultural growth, Temple officials said.

“Honors is not just an academic program. There is a large social aspect to it,” said Rebecca Oliver, associate director for Honors. “Many of our upperclassmen know each other as ‘J5ers’ or ‘J8ers’ [after the floor they shared in Johnson Hall, the previous home to the Honors Living-Learning Community] because of the bond they established through living together.”

Just over a month into his college experience, P.J. Raduta, one of the 250 Honors freshmen living in 1300, is already seeing the rewards of a living-learning community.

“Living with Honors students is an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s not a convention of nerds who constantly study, but a good social environment that balances a diverse group of fun people with Honors standards of academic achievement."

- By Ted Boscia

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