|Duke Hall Renovation Puts International Studies in the Heart of the Campus
September 11, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
It’s more than symbolic that the Dean Rusk International Studies Program is now located between two busy pedestrian boulevards in the heart of the campus. Its new location in the renovated James B. Duke Residence Hall, right beside the bustling Knobloch Campus Center, positions the Rusk Program to fully realize its founders’ dreams of permeating campus life with international awareness.
|The large dedication crowd enjoyed refreshments and a salsa band in the new Long Courtyard, named in recognition of the generosity of Gary '73 and Lee Carpenter-Long.|
During the celebratory dedication of the building on September 6, speakers lauded the college’s creation of a living-learning community focused on international education. The Rusk Program occupies about two-thirds of the first floor, with 4,500 square feet for administrative offices, meeting rooms, and a kitchen. The rest of the space in the three-story structure houses 104 students, all of whom pledged in the housing lottery last spring to be meaningful participants in the life of the building’s international community.
Twenty-six of the student residents further chose to live on halls that focus on specific international issues. One hall is dedicated to Spanish language, and the second group is studying issues facing developing countries. Each hall will meet weekly with a faculty advisor to develop programming.
Chris Alexander, the John ’43 and Ruth McGee Director of the Rusk Program, occupies the “Perry Office of the Director” on a first-floor corner of the building, enjoying an unparalleled view of students passing by through two broad glass walls. The plaque on the door pays homage to the program’s inaugural director, Amb. Jack Perry, who served the college from 1985 to 1995. The designation was made possible by a gift from Mike ’73 and Pam Deese. Mike is a longtime member of the Rusk Program Advisory Council.
Alexander said the number of people stopping by to see the new Rusk Program offices has been “breathtaking.” While he expects the volume to taper off as people satisfy their curiosity about the new quarters, he said the location in the heart of campus has “recharged the batteries” of the Rusk program staff, and other staffers who work there in international programs and international student affairs. “It’s great to be able to wave to students as they pass,” Alexander said. “The increased visibility by itself can’t help but make people feel more connected to us.”
Alexander told the crowd gathered for the dedication that the building will fulfill the vision set forth by President Emeritus John Kuykendall when the Rusk Program was founded twenty-two years ago. Kuykendall insisted that the Rusk Program “should be not a separate school, but a dimension in the total Davidson experience.” (Here's a complete transcript of Alexander's remarks.)
In the intervening years, the Rusk program has worked to fulfill that mission primarily from the periphery of campus—in the Carolina Inn, the basement of Chambers Building, on North Main Street, and temporarily last summer in a Martin Court student apartment. The new location will facilitate the sort of serendipitous occasions that weave international awareness into students’ everyday lives. “We now work where they live, so that international awareness will bridge student life inside and outside the classroom,” Alexander said.
| Rusk Program Director Chris Alexander speaks in his office with Davidson's Karen Goldstein and Susan McConnell, education division program officer with The Duke Endowment.|
He continued, “We’ve done a good job internationalizing the curriculum, and in making international travel almost an expectation. Now we’ve not just built a building, we’ve constructed a community that gives students the opportunity to enjoy a global perspective on what they eat, on the music they listen to, and in what they talk about with their hallmates at two o’clock in the morning.”
The $7.3 million renovation, supported by a lead gift from The Duke Endowment, created two wings flanking a new, curved, colonnaded main entry on its north side. The columns front a two-story atrium lounge that serves both the Rusk Program and hall residents. Other amenities in the Rusk Program area specifically designed to enhance internationalization include two meeting rooms, a kitchen dedicated to international cuisine, and a large television with a satellite package that includes channels from around the world.
The renovation serves another valuable residence life purpose, adding thirty-seven beds to the total available on campus. That further limits the number of students living off campus and strengthens the college’s commitment to residential community.
Davidson’s staff construction supervisor, Ronnie Shirley, noted that the structure is also remarkable as the college’s first building project conducted to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. LEED certification emphasizes strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
All the residential spaces include “single loaded corridors,” positioning the hall against one windowed side of the building. That configuration improves acoustics, and allows daylight to illuminate the halls and reduce energy costs. The architect for the project was Charlotte’s Jenkins • Peer firm, and Rodgers Builders constructed it.
The residence hall includes three room configurations—double rooms, suites with two double rooms sharing a semi-private bath, and a large number of single rooms. In addition to rooms on the ground, second, and third floors, the addition of the two wings allowed space below the ground floor for eight residential rooms.
The “party favor” at the dedication was a blank passport that was stamped for participants as they toured various locations around the building. Alexander said the passport was the perfect metaphor for the occasion, because “what we do here turns a Davidson diploma into an intellectual passport, a sign to the world that the bearer is a broadly and humanely educated citizen of the world.”
|Those at the dedication included Ruth (l) and John (c) McGee, longtime supporters of the Rusk Program, pictured here with Mary Jane Tucker, who works with the McGee Foundation.|
He said the living-learning concept will be a success as it prompts students to engage in impromptu international experiences. He said, “Let’s imagine a student passing by who decides to step into the lobby, and finds posted there a roster of events for the day. There’s a meeting of the Organization of Latin American Students at 7, an International Students Association movie at 8, and a group is getting together later to watch a soccer match. If that student changes plans to participate in one of those events, then we’ve met our goal.”
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
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Posted By: Bill Giduz