The limestone buildings, enormous shade trees, outdoor sculptures, green spaces and stained-glass windows make the Indiana University Bloomington campus beautiful, but it's the students crossing a bridge to find their next class, bent over books in a quiet corner and laughing together at a dining table that breathe life into campus and give it the warm feeling of home.
IU President Michael A. McRobbie recognized the importance of campus life and the quality of student living and learning environments when he was inaugurated 10 years ago. In his first State of the University address, he shared a vision of upgraded student housing on the IU Bloomington campus.
"In recent years IU Bloomington has done much to improve and modernize the learning environment," McRobbie said in 2007. "However, the living environment, specifically student housing, has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s."
To address the need to strengthen residence halls, McRobbie initiated plans to upgrade and renovate all of student housing on the IU Bloomington campus.
By the bicentennial, renovations or replacements for all of the Bloomington campus residence halls and apartment complexes will have been completed, under construction or in planning. This effort is intended to foster a greater sense of community on campus, engage students in stimulating social interaction and provide vital leadership experience.
"Our goal with all renovation and construction projects is to improve the IU experience," said Thomas A. Morrison, vice president for capital planning and facilities. "Our residence halls and apartments provide a unique and valuable on-campus living environment, enabling students to live and learn in a high-quality setting that encourages personal and academic growth."
In the 2017-18 academic year, more than 12,000 students lived on campus. As potential students consider choosing IU, the recent renovations and upgrades have made a difference in recruitment.
"Housing options, especially those that include a variety of living and learning environments, continue to be a factor in a student's consideration in their college search," said Sacha Thieme, executive director of admissions for IU Bloomington. "The recent renovations to our residential and dining facilities have caught the attention of admitted students and help support their decision to attend IU."
At Teter Hall, many students can roll out of bed and take the stairs to find their classroom without leaving the building. After class, they can walk around the corner to a private pod with a desk and chair where they can charge a laptop and focus on academic work. There's a maker space on the first floor where students studying design or engineering can plug in power tools and finish up a project.
In Read Hall, performing arts students can use a multipurpose space as a performance stage as well as a study area. In McNutt Quadrangle, students have access to high-tech conference spaces. In Briscoe Quad, where many students live in suite-style housing in close proximity to the athletics complex, there are murals painted on the walls including one featuring men's basketball forward Christian Watford hitting a last-second shot to beat Kentucky.
Giving students the option of living in a thematic community where academics merge with social life has encouraged students to continue living on campus and kept them connected to IU long after they've graduated.
"Honors Residential Communities offer students a sense of family at IU, and many students find living on an honors floor one of the best experiences they have at IU," said Lynn Cochran, assistant dean of Hutton Honors College. "Students meet other committed scholars and leaders, and they often make lifelong friendships on the HRC floors."
For the 13 residence halls and eight apartment complexes on the Bloomington campus, construction and renovation projects totaling over $479.6 million have been completed or are in planning. These projects offer students not only better facilities but more integration of academics into their living space. In addition, students with similar interests have the opportunity to live in 14 thematic communities and 11 Living Learning Centers that create unique learning experiences.
With IU students coming to Bloomington from across the state, nation and world, having living spaces that accommodate a variety of needs and interests supports student success, one of IU's strategic priorities.
Construction on student housing and dining on the IU Bloomington campus is expected to be completed in 2026. Follow the progress on construction.iu.edu.