First-year honors students have a designated housing community on campus. But after freshman year, USD honors students previously didn’t have a specific living community to be a part of.
Starting next year, there will be a wing on one of the floors in Coyote Village set aside for honors students.
Kate Fitzgerald, USD Housing Director, said since a portion of second-year students typically move from North Complex to Coyote Village, this change made sense.
“Second-year students kind of get thrown to the wind,” Fitzgerald said. “And so we spoke with Honors and they had the interest to keep the same students together somewhere.”
Currently, there is an entire floor in North Complex dedicated to housing first-year honors students. Dallas Doane, USD Honors Coordinator, said this has been overwhelmingly successful, which is a reason he wanted to expand it to other housing options on campus.
“Some of the things we noticed about that floor is high retention from semester to semester so students aren’t only not leaving the floor, but they’re not leaving USD as well,” Doane said.
With USD Housing and the Honors Program working together, making this change possible was easy, Doane said.
Fitzgerald is new to USD this year, but has 30 years of housing experience under her belt. She said having a first-year living-learning community in North Complex has been beneficial for honors students, so continuing this sense of community into the second year would also be helpful.
“Living-learning communities help students with their acclimation in college, (and) help them meet friends,” Fitzgerald said. “So providing with I think that continuity in community from first year to sophomore year is going to help them I think, in their academic success as well as their retention at USD.”
In the past, a number of honors students would move into Coyote Village, Fitzgerald said. Now, instead of being scattered throughout the building, honors students will all be in one place.
Doane said this new community for second-year honors students could also help strengthen and build connections between students.
“The fact that you can come in and have at least one thing in common with students makes a little bit easier,” Doane said. “The whole point of this is to also bridge academics and what you’re doing outside of class too.”
Fitzgerald said she hopes students who decide to continue to live in honors housing feel a connection to the honors program, as well as University Housing.
“I hope they’ll feel a community among themselves,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s our goal to bring faculty into all of our living-learning communities. So it’s our hope to get more faculty involved with them both as next year’s first-year students as well as next year’s returning students.”