Once graduate students arrive on campus, they will have a space to call home, a building dedicated to their distinct needs that previously did not exist.
Today, perched on the corner of University Avenue and Centennial Drive, the historic Stone House lies amid an overhaul. But, if renovations proceed according to plans, by next fall semester, it will accommodate a tech-forward center for graduate students.
“I think this is what you might call a game changer,” said Chris Nelson, associate dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
Several reasons bolster a sense of aptness to that description.
The upgraded Stone House, the original president’s abode on campus that received a $3 million gift from Hal and Kathleen Gershman last year, will help the University retain graduate students by nourishing a community that shares similar struggles and aspirations. The State Board of Higher Education recently approved renaming the building to the Dr. Kathleen and Hal Gershman Engagement Center.
“One of the primary reasons for grad students dropping out of a program, especially those doing research, is a feeling of isolation,” Nelson said. “We are hoping that a space like this can help mitigate some of those feelings.”
As part of UND Strategic Plan, the School of Graduate Studies strives to raise retention rates by a few percentage point every year – even as they currently rest above the national average, said Nelson. The engagement center is to help achieve that by offering students three ample floors to socialize, study, learn and even eat.