New Home for the Honors College
The Eastern Michigan University Honors College is moving to a new home this winter, and looks forward to expanding its offerings and campus connections amid the larger, more modern facilities in the former Holy Trinity Chapel building.
The new location, at 511 West Forest Ave. on the eastern end of campus, brings added flexibility to the college in terms of social, academic and creative activities. The expansive facilities – including the church sanctuary and multiple meeting rooms – allow for greater learning and bonding opportunities for college members and the wider university community.
“The Honors College is here to serve the University as a source of innovation and diversity,” said Rebecca Sipe, director of The Honors College. “This new space and proximity to other departments will allow us to further involve the rest of the University.”
Since 2007, the college has made its home in the historic Starkweather Hall, which was built in 1896 with a $10,000 donation from Ypsilanti philanthropist Mary Anne Starkweather. The 8,000 square-foot space, located on the southern end of campus, includes a meeting area, a reception area and office space.
“It’s sort of like planting a seed,” said Sipe, regarding the geographic evolution of the college. “Starkweather Hall provided a home to The Honors College at a very crucial time, so that we were visible on campus. It gave us the space so we could be of service to our students.”
But since then, The Honors College has increased in student involvement—more than doubling in size since 2011. Now the college is more than doubling its physical size; the move will nearly triple the available floor space.
The 21,000 square-foot chapel was built in 1965, with an addition constructed in 2005. The University paid $940,000 to acquire the chapel last summer.
The space will allow greater flexibility in scheduling student programming, such as workshops, coffee hours and other events, while still fulfilling The Honors College’s core functions of mentoring and advising its students.
“We will be able to honor the needs of all the students who come to us,” Sipe said. “Whether they are traditional, living in the residence halls; commuters or nontraditional students, we can them another place to sit down and study, or have coffee.”
The space will also allow the Honors College to collaborate with the rest of the University community through interdisciplinary programming, such as creative writing workshops, recitals and poetry events. The auditorium will provide space for Honors lectures, events, and workshops, as well as performance and rehearsal space for EMU's performing arts programs.
“I’m excited for the change in scenery,” said Brent Duddles, an Honors College advising fellow from Suttons Bay, MI. “Change opens the door for fresh ideas and finding new ways to accomplish our goals.”
Caitlin Baumer, a graduate assistant in The Honors College, said that, “The possibilities are endless with the space we’ve been given.”
“This goes a long way in strengthening our Honors College community.”
by Dave Konarske and Geoff Larcom