Honors Residential College expands to provide stronger community life

Due to the construction on Memorial, the dining hall's entrance has been relocated. Kassidy Tsikitas | Photographer

By Tyler White | Staff Writer

Baylor has begun construction on the Honors Residential College. The renovation project, which includes the expansion of Memorial and Alexander Halls and the improvement of infrastructure, is set to be completed before the 2024-2025 academic year.

Nichole Bekken, construction project manager, said demolition started in Memorial Hall and has jumped over to Alexander Hall, with 50-75% of the demolition work completed. She said crews are also working on the connector between the two buildings — named the Carona Family Commons in recognition of the gift from John and Helen Carona.

“With the connector on the second and the third floor, students no longer have to exit the building in order to spend time together,” Bekken said. “In fact, the connector will have stairs and an elevator that will connect the first, second and ground levels, so you can come out of those floors and all the way down to the ground level.”

The front entrance of 1845 at Memorial has been closed due to construction, but the dining hall is still open, with the normal Eighth Street entrance as well as a temporary side entrance on Seventh Street.

“We’re rebuilding the dining entrance kind of where it was, and we’re hoping for that to open in the spring instead of the summer, so hopefully reverting everybody back to where they were before and not coming through the side entrance,” Bekken said.

Along with residential areas, Bekken said the renovation includes Honors College offices and suites. Offices for the dean and other administrators will be in Alexander Hall, while offices for faculty of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, Great Texts and the Honors Program will be in Draper Academic Building.

Dr. Jason Whitt, faculty steward of the Honors Residential College, wrote a piece on the renovation earlier this year, sharing his thoughts on the impact of the project. He said the two buildings were in need of general updating, and the expansion with the connector will be beneficial for student life.

“This connector will provide much-needed common space for the HRC community, where our students can gather to study, play, relax and prepare meals,” Whitt wrote. “This space, I anticipate, will be the thriving center of the HRC, in which students truly can share life together.”

Hilton Head Island, S.C., senior Matthew Schreiner said his last three years living in the Honors Residential College were marked by a strong sense of community, which will only be strengthened with the renovation.

“I’m hoping they retain the character of the HRC while bringing a lot of new updates to it that make it more functional,” Schreiner said.

Schreiner said the connector between the two buildings will especially add to the atmosphere.

“Now that we’re getting that new common space, I think that’ll be a really good way to be able to connect those two buildings, not just by identity but also physically,” Schreiner said.