A photo of the exterior of Schmidt Wilson residence hall.

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[dropcap]B[/dropcap]all State is ready to open the doors of its newest renovated residence hall when classes resume for the fall semester Aug. 21.

Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall will be home to more than 500 students. The $40 million facility includes lounge spaces, a computer lab, laundry room and semi-private bathrooms.

As home to the university’s theater and dance and design living-learning communities, the eight-story building features several distinctive amenities catering directly to students majoring in the arts.

Among those students is incoming freshman Oriana Fife, who’s studying music performance. “It’s cool to be among the first students moving in,” said Fife, who attended Interlochen Center for the Arts. “We had practice studios in our residence halls there, so I was happy to hear they had them here too. Now I can practice my tuba without leaving the building.”

Other arts-centric features to the building include a design studio with equipment such as a drafting and lighting table, a black box (experimental) theater for staged performances, a dance studio and a movie screening and performance lounge.

Bill Jenkins, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, said the new residence hall is a boon for students studying the arts.

“More than ever, these are students who are being asked to be entrepreneurial in their careers,” he said. “The additional rehearsal and performance spaces will not only help them rehearse for classes but motivate them as they develop their own original works.”



Living-learning communities increase retention rates

The programs Ball State has created to foster a supportive academic environment for freshmen include living-learning communities like the ones found in Schmidt/Wilson.

“We value the model of our living-learning communities because when we group students with similar interests together in our residence halls, we find it helps them make connections both inside and outside of the classroom, leading to increased retention rates for our underclassmen,” said Chris Wilkey, assistant director of marketing, communications and technology for Ball State’s Housing and Residence Life.

Helping Schmidt/Wilson students acclimate to their new home away from home will be residence hall assistants Liz Terlep and CeCe Brower.

“I love that we get to be RAs together in this newly opened building,” said Terlep, a junior studying public relations. “It’s colorful and nice. I think it makes a good home for creatives.”

Brower, a sophomore interested in art therapy, appreciates living in a residence hall catering to students interested in the same subjects she is. “For a long time I wanted to be a playwright, so I love that there’s a black box theater here in Schmidt/Wilson.”

Renovated Johnson Complex key to new north neighborhood

Other new structural changes to the facility include laminate hardwood flooring in every room as well as built-in USB ports in the wall.

“We know students use their phones and other handheld devices 24/7, so we wanted to include features that would be responsive to their technological needs,” Wilkey said. “It’s these little touches that make their lives easier and make them want to continue living in our residence halls.”

Schmidt/Wilson is adjacent to Botsford/Swinford, Ball State’s most recently renovated residence hall that reopened in 2015. Together the two halls make up the Johnson Complex, which is central to the university’s new north residential neighborhood. In the coming years, the university will add a new five-story residence hall and stand-alone dining facility to that side of campus. The changes are part of the university’s master plan that calls for replacing LaFollette Complex, which is being demolished in sections over the next few years.

About 6,500 students are expected to move into Ball State’s nine residence halls for the 2017-18 academic year. “We are extremely close to full capacity,” Wilkey said.

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