Walsh Hall rector explains roots of community, tradition
Joseph Clark | Friday, April 13, 2018
Walsh Hall, situated on God Quad, first housed students in 1909 and was one of the first dorms to be converted into a women’s dorm in 1972. Named after former-University President Thomas Walsh, Walsh prides itself on being a place of tradition and community, Walsh rector Liz Detwiler said.
“Two … things have come in to clearer focus over the time I’ve been here,” Detwiler, who has been rector since 2014, said. “They are the pillars of safety, inclusion and community flourishing, which are values that our community prioritizes. Everything we do stems from an interest in achieving these goals.”
Detwiler said residents of the hall faced big changes recently, especially when the dorm was being renovated Walsh residents lived in Pangborn Hall.
“I think ever since I first came here, Walsh has been growing a lot,” Detwiler said. “ … The community first had to transition to me as a new rector and then transition to the idea of living in a different hall for a year while ours got renovated, and then transition to actually living in that hall and preparing to move back, as well as transitioning and moving into their newly renovated home this year.”
Detwiler said that during her four years as rector, Walsh has won Hall of the Year or Women’s Hall of the Year three times.
“This community knows how to rally together, build fruitful relationships and create great programs even when faced with challenge,” she said.
Detwiler said the Walsh experience is one of a deep and proud tradition.
“The traditions that we have often involve all of us doing something altogether,” she said. “We may be a small hall, but everyone is very invested. I would say events like the Thanksgiving sustainability dinner — which attracts at least 100 people to come and gather in gratitude with our Walsh family before many of us go home to our own families — is really special to the hall.”
Sophomore Walsh resident Viktoria Teneqexhi said she enjoys the community and tradition in the dorm.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “It’s so much better than being off-campus. The community is really strong … You can tell that everyone really cares about you and your well being. One of the biggest Walsh traditions is Mr. ND, and that was in the fall … It’s kind of like a talent show … where you have different males come in and do comedy or singing or whatever their act is”
Detwiler said the sense of community in Walsh is longstanding and includes a Welcome Weekend tradition specific to Walsh that is also rooted in Catholicism.
“At the end of Welcome Weekend, we invite our new first year students into our chapel, the Chapel of the Visitation, to close out Welcome Weekend with a reflection on what our Walsh love means,” she said. “We offer a prayer service led by the Hall Staff and the Welcome Team that illustrates for the first years how our Walsh love flows from the example of Mary literally overcoming great obstacles to accompany Elizabeth in her time of need and to share divine love with her. Their example of love, friendship and family serves as the foundation on which we model our own community.”