UNK Today | August 2014 - page 6

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Learning communities offer
endless opportunities
UNK
Today
:
Best Years
By ALEX MORALES
Hub Intern
KEARNEY — Learning
communities at the Univer-
sity of Nebraska at Kearney
are unique and geared toward
getting freshmen off to a good
start.
The latest and also the most
nuanced of the communities
will begin this fall and is
mainly exploratory, Director
of Student Housing Tony
Earls said. “We are deliber-
ately picking those students
who are wondering if the
general field of medicine is
for them.”
Made up of 48 students, the
Health Science Learning Com-
munity is divided evenly into
two groups: Exploring Health-
care and Healthcare Today. The
students will take a common
set of three courses and share
living space. One group will
live in Centennial Towers West
and the other
will live in Cen-
tennial Towers
East.
Director of
Health Sciences
Peggy Abels’
expectations for
the new program
are twofold.
“There are many opportu-
nities in health care that the
typical college freshmen is
unaware of,” she said. “There
is a lot to explore in health
sciences.”
Along with exposure to
career options that often go
unnoticed, students also will
have an instant network of
like-minded students.
“If students want to go in
the health care profession, the
coursework is rigorous,” she
said. “On those more rigorous
classes, like chemistry, they
have a built-in study group.”
Earls said a health science
community is a
fitting starting
point. “Two
years from now,
we will open
the new medical
building. One
of the things
we asked was,
‘What do we
need to do now, so that our
students are even more ready
than they
already are to
be ready for
that opportu-
nity?’”
Earls hopes
the new
community
will pave
the way for
future communities with a
similar format. “The plan is to
add two of these communities
every year for the next five
years.”
Initiated in 2008, The Wil-
liam H. Thompson Scholars
Learning Community is for
students who are awarded the
Susan Thompson Buffet Foun-
dation Scholarship.
“The students who receive the
scholarship are those who show
academic merit and financial
need,” said Scott Seeba, asso-
ciate director of the Thompson
learning community.
Although the Thompson
Scholars
Learning
Communi-
ty focuses
primarily on
freshmen,
sophomores,
juniors and
seniors also
have access
to the community’s services.
Seeba said there are 400
Thompson Scholars ranging
from freshmen to fifth-year
seniors. Most of them live in
Mantor Hall. “It provides a
resource for them to transition
and ultimately gain the skills
they will need to graduate.”
The mainstay of the learning
communities on campus is the
Honors Program.
Although the Honors Pro-
gram is not a learning commu-
nity in name, program director
John Falconer considers it one.
“If you think about the things
that constitute a learning com-
munity, the Honors Program is
definitely one.”
As freshmen, the majority of
the students in the program live
together in Men’s Hall, they
have class together, and share
the same mentors. According to
Falconer, 10 percent of under-
graduates are honors students.
Despite the format differ-
ence of the communities, they
all rely on the goodwill of
faculty and staff. “The UNK
model is cooperation,” Falcon-
er said.
Like Falconer, Earls rec-
ognizes the combined effort
involved in learning communi-
ties that the faculty has bought
in, which is critical, he said.
email to:
LEARNING COMMUNITIES
A learning community is an on-campus living space assigned to
people with similar academic interests. These communities strive
to offer students a built-in academic support system by grouping
students with similar interests and/or academic accomplishments.
UNK has four learning communities:
Thompson Scholars Learning Community
Honors Program
Health Care Today Learning Community
Exploring Health Care Learning Community
Peggy Abels
John Falconer
Along with
exposure to
career options that often go
unnoticed, students also will
have an instant network of
like-minded students.
to have additional communica-
tion capability,” McQueen said.
“Our system is sophisticated
enough that it can be very
specific.”
McQueen said that the emer-
gency warning system could
be used in the event of severe
weather or to warn students
about threats to public safety.
“All of these are things that
will keep the students safer,”
said Tony Earls, director of
student housing. “Our ability
now to protect those students is
enhanced.”
UNK also upgraded the air
supply and exhaust systems in
CTE and gave the building a
general face-lift by replacing
carpet and tile and painting the
building’s interior.
Other additions include new
elevators
and lighting;
McQueen
said that the
new lighting
will be more
efficient and
result in lower
energy costs
for UNK.
The addi-
tion of sprin-
klers brings
UNK resi-
dence halls
in line with
a University
of Nebras-
ka Board
of Regents
mandate that
requires all
university
sleeping quar-
ters to have sprinklers by 2017.
All UNK Residence Halls
meet the sprinkler requirement
except for University Heights,
which McQueen said will be
replaced before 2017.
He said a replacement for
University Heights will be the
first development priority for
University Village, the 104-acre
tract southwest of campus that
has been tapped for develop-
ment by UNK.
The completion of CTE’s
renovations brings the 2006-
2015 UNK Facilities Develop-
ment plan near completion.
“We started off several
years ago with the intention
of renewing the bulk of the
residential space,” McQueen
explained.
That renewal has included
the construction of Antelope
Hall (2007) and Nester Hall
(2008); renovations of Mantor
Hall (2009), Men’s Hall (2010),
and Randall Hall (2011); and
demolition of Case Hall (2006),
Ludden Hall (2006) and Stout
Hall (2010).
Remaining on the “to-do”
list are Conrad Hall and Martin
Hall. Conrad Hall — the small-
est residence hall on campus
— will serve as office space for
Residence Life during the fall
semester but will be demol-
ished soon thereafter. Martin
Hall will be renovated and then
converted into an administra-
tive building.
email to:
CONTINUED FROM 1
CTE:
Upgrades mean students will be safer; face-lift includes new carpet and interior painting
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13 EAST 22ND ST. • DOWNTOWN KEARNEY • 308.237.2152 • 1.800.950.6113
Rick Tucker, Kearney Hub
NEWLY RENOVATED
rooms at Centennial Towers East will be occupied by more than 700 stu-
dents during the fall semester. Rooms were given a fresh coat of paint and new carpet as part of
the renovations.
The completion
of CTE’s renovations is part of the
2006-2015 UNK Facilities Development plan, including
the construction of Antelope Hall (2007) and Nester
Hall (2008); renovations of Mantor Hall (2009), Men’s
Hall (2010), and Randall Hall (2011); and demolition of
Case Hall (2006), Ludden Hall (2006) and Stout Hall
(2010).
Lee McQueen
Tony Earls
BATH-
ROOMS
in Cen-
tennial
Towers
East were
re-tiled as
part of the
renovation
process.
Centennial
Towers
West
underwent
similar ren-
ovations
last year.
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