Room for transition

Published 5:45 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A moving crew in fluorescent yellow T-shirts greeted incoming freshmen today as they moved into the new residence hall at the University of Montevallo.

Freshman Julia Myers of Hazel Green and her mother Natalie brought a truck loaded with boxes.

“There were 19 people waiting for our truck when we got here,” Julia said. “After the first load, we went back for more stuff and they had already moved it all.”

Julia will live with four other girls in an apartment-style suite.

Director of Housing John Denson said this building is Phase I in three phases of changes UM plans to make to residential life on campus.

“Its something we are starting here that we hope in the future will spread across campus,” Denson said. “It’s where the market is going. Students, they expect more; they want more than traditional dorms offer.”

The suites include four bedrooms, with two bathrooms. There is also an efficiency kitchen complete with a refrigerator, microwave, sink and cabinets.

“Have you seen that refrigerator?” Julia asked her mom.

Julia comes to UM on scholarship after graduating from the Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile. She and her family are originally from Russia.

“I can’t imagine a dorm like this,” Natalie said. “Its two times, three times bigger than our apartment in Russia.”

The building includes four floors of apartment-style suites, as well as study rooms and community kitchen’s on each floor. There is also a game room, TV room and classroom space.

Even Mayor Ben McCrory pitched in with the moving process.

“We get to see a lot of nice students and meet some great parents,” McCrory said. “I think a lot of the new students are pleased to be at the University of Montevallo, but even happier to be in this new dorm.”

Besides the additional space, the new hall also provides additional support. Denson said faculty fellows assigned to each floor give students a structured independence.

Denson said national studies show students who live on campus tend to be more involved.

“We’re here to be visible too,” said fellow Betsy Inglesby. “We want to make sure students don’t see faculty as people who just live in offices somewhere.”

Fellow Tarsha Bluiett said they hope to assist students with daily needs whether that means helping them study or cook dinner.

“Our purpose is to assist in their transition from home life to academic life,” Tarsha said. “We want to make sure they get the help they need so we can keep retention rates up. We want to see them graduate.”