In the fall of 2013, CUI launched four unique residential communities to create an experience where students and professors interact outside the classroom and students enjoy greater opportunities for learning right where they live.
The newly re-purposed residence halls, called Living-Learning Communities or LLCs, house 40 to 50 students who applied to live there based on a common interest: the Global Village is for students interested in global studies; Holos House is for students wanting to emphasize healthy living in body, mind and soul; WINGS is for students seeking greater help transitioning to college life; and CUI Bono is concerned with life’s big questions.
In each living-learning community a professor and the professor’s family are living among the students for the entire academic year, providing an element of family and personal interaction uncommon for most college students. The goal, says director of residential education and services Scott Keith, is for everyday interaction between students, professors and professors’ families to provide a deeper, more transformative influence that goes beyond the classroom.
“Students are happier to be part of your institution if you are able to provide accessible ways for students and faculty to interact outside the classroom,” Keith says. “An LLC provides a place where students feel that they intrinsically belong and that engages them co-curricularly in an interest of theirs.”
A Living-Learning Community “provides a place where students feel that they intrinsically belong.”
CUI founding president Dr. Charles Manske says students come to college from a family, then graduate, marry and return to a family situation.
“The college experience is not a vacation from family living where you can sow your wild oats,” Manske says. “There ought to be a Christian example of a professor, and the professor’s children and spouse, and how they learn to live and interact with other people in a Christian way. Students better understand their responsibility to live for God and for others when they see a family living in their residential unit with the values of love, forgiveness, acceptance of correction, all done under God’s love and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That’s what changes people’s lives, when you see that working out in the life of a professor.”
Student Christopher Thorne, a sophomore majoring in psychology, says his interest was piqued when he learned that his favorite professor and family would be living in the Global Village living learning community.
“We were signing up for places to live and they told us there were these new things called living-learning communities that you could join,” Thorne says. “I thought, ‘That looks really cool.’ When I heard that Dr. Mallinson was going to live here, I was excited. I get to meet his family, see how they are. I know I’ll learn a lot from this, especially with him here. You don’t hear about professors living on campus. I hope Dr. Mallinson can lead some really interesting discussions.”
In August, more than 100 members of the campus community, including President Krueger and founders Dr. Shang Ik Moon and Dr. Manske, gathered for the opening of the Global Village.
“Here at Concordia University we view this Global Village as a place where students can learn how to witness to Jesus Christ as their Savior,” Krueger told the assembled group. “We are very mindful of the Great Commission.”
“This is indeed a very awesome occasion and my heart is filled with joy,” Moon said in remarks before and during the ceremony. “It’s the kind of thing we dreamt about when we were opening our school many years ago when there was only a hilltop here. We made a concerted effort from the beginning to be global. This Global Village can become a wonderful example of how to make a global living a reality, united under the love of Jesus Christ. We can translate our faith and beliefs into action.”
Karen Gurske, a sophomore studying elementary education, applied to live in the Global Village but was “really nervous coming into this. I thought, are the international students going to like me? What barriers are we going to have to cross — language barriers, cultural barriers, everything. But in the first couple of days I realized these girls are very similar to me. They have different experiences, different heritage and a different language, but we all interact in a Christian manner — very friendly, polite, helpful. So my nervousness and my worry has turned into relief. I’m pretty excited for the rest of the year to see how these relationships build. Hopefully they can teach me as much as I can teach them.” Karen Gurske, Global Village resident
Manske says the idea of a living-learning community was in CUI’s DNA from the start. The initial class of 35 students in 1976 lived together in the only building on campus, where the classroom was located and a faculty member also lived.
“We did not think that professors should be sitting home and students should be living in a dorm,” Manske says. “The heart of the community was the living-learning concept, interacting twenty-four hours a day, students and families.”
Scott Keith, who was in charge of developing the new living-learning communities, started by identifying existing groups of interest on campus such as the Global Citizens club and CUI Bono, an academic society. That led to the formation of residence halls specifically for students with those interests.
Faculty’s reaction has been positive, he says.
“The faculty living on campus are exceptionally excited about being here,” says Keith. “It’s caught on like wildfire. My wife and I have lived on campus for almost a year. It’s been an incredible experience. I’ve gotten to know the students so much better and look forward to sharing that experience with the current faculty in residence as they learn what it’s like to live on a college campus again and open your home and your lives to students.”
The broader effect, says Keith, is creating a “truly residential campus” with ample opportunity for staff and faculty to serve as direct, positive influences on the lives of the students. This will enrich the college experience for everyone, improve academic results and retention and bond graduates to their alma mater, creating a stronger alumni community, he says.
Max Redeker, a freshman from St. Louis, lives in Holos House — a good fit for a guy who likes to run 3 miles a day before class.
“I love Holos House,” he says. “They promote standards of healthy living and an active life. This year I’d like to get more knowledge and a better mindset about what is healthy and unhealthy. I’m hoping to come out of Holos House in better shape than I came in.”
Ellie Burley, a freshman from Hollister studying athletic training, also lives in Holos House and says she is learning to eat healthier and be more active.
“There are emotional and spiritual sides to it, too,” she says. “It’s about getting to know people on a different level. You get to share with them and build relationships and knowledge.”