Welcoming Sophomores

October 1, 2002

 

As part of the new residential experience for undergraduates, Duke welcomed sophomores back to West Campus in August with a discussion about leadership by the deputy mayor of Washington, D.C. The talk was the first in a series of lectures, weekly dinners, and events scheduled for the Class of 2005. The year-long programming, titled "Sophomore Experience 2002...beginning a new tradition," is an integral part of the university's decision last year to require all sophomores to live on West Campus beginning this fall.

Deputy Mayor John Koskinen '61 was joined by Van Williamson, the sophomore class president, and William H. Chafe, vice provost for undergraduate education and dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences, at the hour-long "Sophomore Celebration" event. A barbecue for the Class of 2005 followed.

Koskinen, former chairman of Duke's board of trustees, led the U.S. government's response to the "Y2K" dilemma and was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton White House. In 2000, he received the Duke Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award. As deputy mayor and city administrator of the District of Columbia, Koskinen has developed recommendations for restructuring the district's public-school operations.

The year-long effort includes a sophomore majors fair in September; a distinguished lecture series, "Five for Five: 2005"; and "Quad Dinners in the Great Hall" on Sunday evenings. Besides grouping sophomores on West, Duke is linking residence halls on both campuses. Duke is also changing the way it provides residential-life and academic-support services by creating new residential communities--called "quads"--on West Campus. Newly hired full-time residence coordinators will supervise the undergraduate and resident staff that serve each quad as liaisons between students, faculty, and administrators.

The changes build upon the "stunning success" of Duke's 1995-96 initiative to house all first-year students on East Campus, says Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs. "Our goal is to continue the sense of community that forms among first-year students, crossing racial and ethnic lines, through their shared living experience," he says. "We want to move that East Campus experience to West Campus to build a true cohesiveness in our housing situation and a new level of community." Duke's trustees approved the changes to the residential-life policy in May 2001.

The opening of the 350-bed West-Edens Link residence hall in August, combined with a shift to a summers-only renovation schedule, permitted the university to move quickly to implement the plan. "We did not want to wait any longer than was necessary to foster a campus living environment that is more socially vibrant, engaged in more academic endeavors outside the classroom, and focused on more civic leadership opportunities," says Moneta. "We face challenges to achieving our goals, to be sure, but now we can start building the momentum."