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As one of the many changes that have been made in Honors recently, the Honors Program has moved from the St. Augustine Center for the Liberal Arts to Garey Hall on West Campus. The program moved into the new space in the summer of 2010, after having outgrown the small one on main campus. Creating a single place for all things Honors, the move has been very positive for the program as a whole,
“The old space [in SAC] was really small and the student lounge was right on top of the staff space,” said Dr. Thomas Smith, Director of the Program. In addition, only one of the two dedicated seminar rooms was near the office. As Honors expanded, the space was not serving the needs of the Program. The benefits of the Honors headquarters in Garey (which is the former location of the Villanova School of Law) include an expanded office facility, a student lounge, a staff lounge, and two seminar rooms, all in the same hallway. There is artwork on the walls, and décor that is conducive to learning. Whereas the old location was not as easy to work with, Dr. Smith noted that the new rooms “just are a really good space for learning and friendship.” Everything Honors-related is in one area, and it is very important to Dr. Smith that every Honors class is in Garey.
The move has been extremely beneficial for the program. The new space creates a solidified identity for Honors, in which a fellowship-based intellectual community is key. Both seminar rooms are right next to the student lounge, which creates a sense of belonging; moreover, the new facilities are a source of pride for many students. Students can also foster shared interests and intellectual discussion. “Having Honors in its own space,” remarked Dr. Smith, “really encourages that kind of community.”
The student response has been positive about the new space. “The new facilities definitely make it worth the extra walk,” said junior Tom Belatti. “The expanded lounge and office space, along with all the nearby classrooms, has helped give Honors a communal feel and transformed it into a place where Honors students can both learn and relax.” Junior Caroline Kemp agrees. “I love the displays in the hallway outside of Honors and I love the spacious student lounge!” she said. “I’m a big fan of Honors in Garey.”
Although it is a decent distance from South Campus, where many freshmen live, there is room for them to relax between classes, further promoting the intellectual community. The space also solidifies the relationship between students and Honors, particularly for junior students, who sometimes become disconnected with the program after starting classes for their major. Furthermore, the space has already served to attract prospective students to the ever-expanding program.
The new headquarters in Garey have truly embodied what the Honors Program is all about. With a beautiful new space for learning, discussion, and friendship, Honors will continue to grow and flourish as an integral part of academics at Villanova.
by Newsletter co-editor, Alexandra Andreassen. Alex is a junior Sociology and Honors major, minoring in Communication.