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Pangborn community to move to new women’s dorm, older dorms to receive extensive renovations

and | Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This July, incoming freshmen women will no longer have the possibility of being placed in Pangborn Hall.

StudentAffairs_Graphics_News_PrintLucy Du | The Observer

In a plan announced Wednesday night by vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding, the Pangborn community — current residents and rector Sr. Mary Donnelly — will move into one of the two yet unnamed residence halls currently under construction on the east side of campus.

Pangborn Hall itself, which Hoffmann Harding described as “functional and safe,” will be used as a “swing hall” for the foreseeable future to house dorm communities whose buildings undergo extensive, year-long renovations. The Walsh Hall community will reside in Pangborn for the 2016-2017 school year, followed by the Badin Hall community and then Morrissey Manor community the following academic year.

In a letter to the University community Wednesday night, Hoffmann Harding said the move “will honor the personal relationships, traditions and strong sense of community that have been formed in Pangborn Hall and will continue to flourish among those same women in the new women’s residence hall.”

Donnelly, who has served as the rector of Pangborn for eight years, said the move was new territory for her, but she hoped to preserve a number of aspects of the Pangborn community.

“What I’m thinking at the moment is that we will take the traditions and the community — what makes Pangborn, Pangborn — into this new place,” she said. “ … I think it’s going to be a combination of retaining what has been and then developing new. So it’s going to be a new community in many ways. It’s less about the building — because Pangborn is not that aesthetically pleasing — it’s about what we do inside.

“It’s about the community we build. All of that community and tradition will go with us, and then we have the opportunity to incorporate what has been perhaps with some new,” Donnelly said.

In addition to the women currently living in Pangborn and freshmen from the class of 2020, Donnelly said another 60 or so women would be accepted as inter-hall transfers to the new dorm, which will house 225 women. She said this would be a factor in the creation of the new dorm identity.

“I also recognize that there will be folks currently on campus who are not members of Pangborn who will also join the community,” Donnelly said. “How do we incorporate all of those folks, plus the freshmen who will come in, and build something? And we have great foundation to build from.

In terms of hall staff, however, Donnelly said she and current hall staff would be hiring new RAs for the 2016-2017 school year primarily from the current Pangborn community. Hall government, too, will be elected from the current dorm community.

Associate Vice President for Residential Life Heather Rakoczy Russell said the move was a “great opportunity” for the hall community.

“I have the great privilege of working with [Donnelly] as her supervisor and I know her to be a very collaborative person, which is why I’m so excited that she will be the rector of this new community,” Rakoczy Russell said. “So I know there will be great listening to the women who will continue to be in this community, and what’s important to them.

“But this is also a great opportunity for them to reinvent themselves. What’s the best of what has been, and what’s the next chapter? And because of Mary’s collaborative style, I know it will be a nice balance of those things,” Rakoczy Russell said.

In terms of the Pangborn Hall building, Rakoczy Russell said using it as a swing hall will allow for updates to the other dorms that were previously unattainable.

“[Using a swing hall is] certainly not a new concept in the field, but it’s a new concept for us here at Notre Dame,” she said. “It’s been a dream, truthfully. … Over the time that I’ve been involved in student affairs, we’ve done renovations over the summer. So the idea of having somewhere between 12 and perhaps even 15 months to do the project comprehensively in a way that would benefit the community all at once  I think is a tremendous opportunity and not one that we’ve had before.”

These major renovations will be more significant than previous summer-long residence hall renovations, and will “seek to provide more improvements to the internal configurations of existing halls that facilitate the building of community (e.g., comparable social and study space) and modernize mechanical systems that impact the daily experience of students (e.g., consistency of heat, plumbing),” Hoffmann Harding said in the email.

Additionally, typical summer renovations will continue in coming years, with Knott Hall scheduled to receive the first round of renovations in the summer of 2016. According to the email, 18 residence halls will undergo either minor or major renovations over the next decade.

Unlike the new women’s residence hall, which will be filled with former Pangborn residents, the new men’s dorm, also set to open for the beginning of next school year, will be filled using the interhall transfer application and incoming freshmen, similar to the process by which Duncan and Ryan were filled when they opened. Fr. Matt Kuczora, the current rector of Carroll Hall, will move to new men’s hall, and Carroll will hire a new rector next year.

According to an FAQ on the student affairs website, the new residence halls will be 71,000 gross square feet and the women’s hall will have 225 residents and the new men’s hall will have 221. The names for each hall have yet to be announced, but are scheduled to be revealed later this spring. The men’s hall will be the northern-most of the two buildings, and the women’s dorm will sit just northeast of Hesburgh Library.

Student focus groups and listening sessions with rectors helped generate the designs for the two new dorms, and Rakoczy Russell said students talking about their ideal dorm largely described “Mod Quad on the inside and Alumni and Dillon on the outside.” The renovations to Walsh, Badin and Morrissey will largely depend on input from residents and leaders of those dorms in coming months and years, Hoffmann Harding said.

According to the student affairs website, the new dorms will feature a variety of room sizes and layouts, divided into six sections, each of which will have a resident assistant in addition to the two assistant rectors and rector of each new hall. The first floors of each new dorm will be mostly dedicated to communal spaces, including a two-story floor lounge, reading room, study areas and a chapel. Upper floors will also include “pass-through” floor lounges

Based on the focus group results, the women’s hall “will feature full kitchens adjoined to the floor lounge on every floor, whereas the men’s hall will feature one full kitchen and three kitchenettes adjoined to the floor lounges plus food sales in the basement,” the website states. Additionally, both new dorms will include a fitness room, laundry, vending, storage and an outdoor patio.

Students who wish to learn more about the changes and share their thoughts can attend one of the upcoming information sessions with leaders from Student Affairs and Facilities Design & Operations. According to the Student Affairs website, these sessions will be held on Tuesday, January 19 at 9 p.m. in 101 DeBartolo Hall and Thursday, January 21 at 9 p.m. in Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library.

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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About Jack Rooney

Jack is a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame, and The Observer's former managing editor. He is currently spending a year living and working for the University in Ireland, and writing columns to keep him busy. For more random thoughts and plenty of news links, follow Jack on Twitter @RooneyReports.

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