DU looks to add new ‘Student Commons’ area by fall 2016

By Lavell Garner


February 26, 2014


Now more than ever, it looks like Dominican University might be receiving some new additions to campus in the very near future.  


Developments are in place for the university to possibly build a new student commons area. The new student commons would allow the Dining Hall and Social Hall to be clustered and be merged into large community rooms, where students can study or hang out. These new community rooms will also include comfortable furniture and new lighting.


President Donna Carroll has stated the new addition has been in the campus master plan for a few years and now is the time to follow through with the plan.


“All this is driven by the fact as our undergraduate student enrollment grows, and as we have more commuting students as well as resident students,” Carroll said. “Students need places to hangout, meet friends, to find quiet study space and to meet in groups to do projects. All these things that give you a sense of student life.”


According to President Carroll, if everything goes according to plan, construction would begin next summer, with the opening of the student commons in the fall of 2016.


The initial idea of a new student commons actually came from students of the university.


Dean of Students Trudi Goggin has been working closely with three student representatives on the student commons committee as well as Student Government Association, Commuter Student Association and the Resident Student Association.  


SGA President Berto Aguayo feels the idea of the new added facility will give students more space to do what they want.


“I think it is a very exciting project,” he said. “As we all know, currently there are limited spaces where students can gather. The student commons will improve the student experience here at Dominican by providing a student vector in which students can foster relationships.”


Many students think Dominican is overdue for a student commons and think it will be a place both residents and commuters will enjoy.


“I think it would be a great idea and it’ll be a nice place for everyone to hang out,” junior Dianna Kes said. “I feel like it is something every school should have so that students have a place to connect.”


Freshman Mary Alice Maloney is excited to finally have a student commons on campus. If the building opens as projected in the fall of 2016, Maloney would be able to enjoy the space during her senior year.


“A building like that sounds pretty cool and I think it’d be nice for residents to have more space to hang out and meet up,” Maloney explained. “I’ve noticed the current commons [Coughlin Commons] gets crowded really quickly and there just isn’t a lot of space to spread out.”


Current university offices and departments may also be moved to the new student commons upon project completion. The Academic Enrichment Center, currently located in the lower level of Parmer Hall, is one of the departments that may be moved into the new two-story building.


President Carroll says that by building the new commons near the back of Mazzuchelli Hall, it would be easier for students and staff to navigate from building to building.


“What we are hoping is that by building the student commons, it will allow us to vertically connect spaces,” Carroll said. “We would build out of the old kitchen, so you would be able to literally walk through Lewis to the Academic Enrichment Center, down the stairs to the new dining hall. It will create additional pathways for students that will connect services in new and better ways.”


The current budget for the project is projected to cost between $8 and $10 million. The project will be financed by donations from alumni and other benefactors of Dominican.


According to President Carroll, construction of the student commons will not affect cost of tuition for students.


Chicago architecture company Holabird & Root, the same company which built Parmer Hall, will be responsible for the construction of the new student commons.


Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Amy McCormack says more renderings and images of what the building will actually look like will be available this summer.


“We anticipate more informed renderings this summer once we gave gathered more information that will help us with the final design,” McCormack said. “We will be sharing the design and renderings in the fall to gather feedback.”