Home Sweet Residence Hall

Mother and daughter Sharon (Bell) Burns '63 and Haley Burns pose amid the belongings they've brought to make Haley's new room functional and cozy. Photograph by Jack Liu

Like the first frost or the changing colors of the leaves, a sure sign that autumn has come to the University of Oregon is the annual organized chaos that is move-in day.

This September, lines of stuff-stuffed SUVs, pick-up trucks, sedans, and compacts prowled for parking places near the residence halls as a record 4,200 new students descended. More than 300 volunteers—students along with faculty and staff members—bustled around in their bright green “Unpack the Quack” T-shirts and helped arriving students and their families ferry belongings from vehicle to room.

While many things about the annual ritual proceeded as in move-ins past, this year saw a few new twists. For recent Wilsonville High graduate Haley Burns and her mother Sharon (Bell) Burns ’83, the move was into the just-opened 450-bed Global Scholars Hall. The first new residence hall on campus since 2006, the complex provides an academically focused learning environment for students, such as those enrolled in the Robert Donald Clark Honors College, the College Scholars program in the College of Arts and Sciences, or language immersion programs in Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, and French.

Haley, an honors college student majoring in biology, says she “couldn’t pass up being in a brand new dorm that has such great amenities.” These include classrooms, music and presentation practice rooms, a demonstration kitchen, and a library commons area staffed with an undergraduate services librarian. Far from the dining commons of old, the hall’s Fresh Market Café (open 7:00 till 2:00 a.m.) offers a sushi bar, pasta station, rice bowl station, coffee bar, grab-and-go section, and deli counter. “I try to eat healthy and they are stocked with really healthy food,” Haley says.

Her mother is equally enthused about the new hall. “We’re very committed to recycling and composting at home, and so we’re delighted that the residence hall is, too,” says Sharon, who is also happy to see her daughter in an environment emphasizing academic success. “As a parent, I’m impressed—it seems so supportive of students. The library and the resident scholar really set the tone.”

Resident scholar? Yes—and another first for UO housing.

Professor of Spanish Robert Davis is another new resident of the Global Scholars Hall—though his full-size apartment is far roomier than the students’ quarters. His academic specialty in the area of language-learning will be especially useful in his work directing the hall’s language immersion programs.

“The setting creates a close link between students and faculty members, like a small liberal arts college,” he says. “I’ll eat in the dining hall with students, see them in the hallways. This proximity in a relaxed atmosphere will, hopefully, create conversations that would never otherwise take place.”

He looks forward to these interactions and says, “Students can be rejuvenating—the exuberance of youth.” On the other hand, he acknowledges the possibility that living among 450 college students and their “exuberance” could wear him out. “I saw one student enter a room and spontaneously perform a cartwheel out of sheer delight,” says the 50-year-old. “Really.”

By Ross West, MFA '84