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Residential Life to convert Pangborn to men’s dorm, renovate Sorin in upcoming year

| Monday, May 3, 2021

The Office of Residential Life has finalized changes and renovations in residential life for the upcoming academic year, including the transformation of Pangborn Hall into a men’s dorm, the complete renovation of Sorin College and a minor renovation of Welsh Family Hall.

Primarily used as transitional housing for the past few years, Pangborn Hall will become a men’s dorm community for the foreseeable future starting in fall of 2021, director of residential life for housing operations Jonathan Retartha said in an email.

Retartha said the decision to transform Pangborn into a new community came partly from the closure of Zahm House.

“With Zahm now serving as our swing hall for renovations, Pangborn’s community will help provide additional space for our male population on campus and avoid overcrowding in the men’s halls,” he said.

Resident assistants have already been assigned to the hall and an email was sent to male students living on campus inviting them to transfer into the community, Retartha said. Sophomore transfer students and first-years will have the possibility of being assigned randomly to the dorm as part of the campus-wide policy.

In the 2020-2021 academic year, Pangborn served as a women’s residence hall for transfer students and students whose student abroad programs were canceled. According to Retartha, residents of Pangborn were either transferred back to their original residence hall or given priority in the transfer portal to other halls.

Meanwhile, residents of Sorin College will be living in Zahm for the next year as their home is renovated.

In a March 15 letter to the Sorin community, Retartha detailed two major themes in the renovation of Sorin: to keep the historical architecture of Sorin and maintain the current occupancy of the hall.

As Sorin — opened in 1889 — stands as one of the oldest buildings on campus, Retartha said the University undertook an investigation into the archives to unveil historical plans dating back to 1893 for the building to eventually have four hallways. This, Retartha said, was used to finalize plans for the renovation.

“During the 2021-22 renovation, the University will finally fulfill the original vision for Sorin by building a three-story western addition (essentially “completing the square”) while preserving the community’s current occupancy,” the letter said.

Courtesy of Jonathan Retartha
A digital rendering of the renovation Sorin College building from the West side displays the annexation of a fourth hallway.

Sorin will be complete with new common spaces, lounges and kitchen areas, similar to those of newer dorms such as Baumer and Dunne Hall.

Sorin has been long awaiting its time for renovations, Sorin rector Fr. Bob Loughery said, as the hall was originally scheduled to receive renovations in the fall of 2020. Those plans were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Loughery said he thinks his residents are ready for the one-year move as they knew it was on the horizon.

“They kind of knew this year was going to be the year, and then it got put on hold so I think they’re accepting that this is what we have to do,” Loughery said.

As Zahm is a larger building than Sorin, Retartha said residential life partnered with Loughery and the current rector of Zahm, Fr. Bill Dailey, to create a floor plan for an even distribution of students throughout the hall.

In addition, Loughery said Sorin hired two additional resident assistants to ensure equal coverage throughout the dorm and to prepare for the renovated layout of Sorin.

“Then we come back to the renovated Sorin, and we’re going to have 6, so we decided to go ahead and get the 6 [resident assistants] and then we’ll have our staff in Sorin for the future,” Loughery said.

Loughery said Sorin will continue to build community in the next year by holding its signature events — Seccession Week and Kick-it-for-Kevin.

This summer, Welsh Family Hall will undergo a minor renovation, including new paint, flooring and furniture.

Retartha said the University is on track to return to its schedule of one major and one minor renovation each year, but no plans are solidified in terms of specific buildings.

“The University Architect’s office will assist in identifying future projects, but no further decisions have been made at this time,” Retartha said.

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a junior pursuing a major in history with minors in digital marketing and journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as the Notre Dame News Editor.

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