Western Kentucky University will offer this fall’s freshman class a new living-learning community aimed at keeping them on a path toward graduation.
Members of the media were given a tour on Tuesday of the new First Year Village at the south end of campus. It includes two new residence halls constructed unlike typical dormitories.
Normal Hall and Regents Hall will both contain ten pods of 15-25 students each, housing more than half of the incoming freshmen this fall. WKU President Timothy Caboni says students will live in small groups with other classmates who share similar majors and interests.
“What we know is that students don’t succeed alone," Caboni said. "They’re most successful when they’re surrounded by support systems from their advisors, instructors, and staff to their roommates, classmates, and student organization peers.”
The concept of the First Year Village is aimed at increasing retention rates among first-year students.
“The 3,000 students who enter together, you can get lost sometimes. So instead of entering with 3,000, you enter with 24 peers," added Caboni. "You live in the same space, take courses alongside them. You have a faculty mentor who’s assigned to you who shares your academic or other interests.”
Freshmen will be chosen to live in the First Year Village through an application process. The university has raised funds to help lessen the housing costs for low-income and under-represented minorities. The First Year Village is located at the site of the former Bemis Lawrence and Barnes Campbell dormitories.
The $48 million project that began in 2018 will also include a new Java City coffeehouse and a sandwich shop called The Spread.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that uphended a lot of schedules, WKU's First Year Village is on track to open in August.