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Nearly 300 students have taken up residence in Casa de Oro, which is designed to provide a nurturing, interactive environment enabling freshman and sophomore students to thrive in a university setting. Casa de Oro complements the Las Casas housing facility, which opened in 2003 and which now serves upperclassmen and graduate students on the West campus. The Verde Dining Pavilion adds expanded dining choices on campus, including open and private dining areas, late-night dining options and market-style servery areas.
A third new building, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, is under construction and scheduled to open in January. The three new buildings will surround a second grass quad area on campus, along with Fletcher Lawn to the east.
“These buildings represent more than simply places to live and to eat,” said Elizabeth Langland, ASU vice provost and dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus. “They are part of a continuing transformation of the West campus into a fully realized living and learning community, what President Crow terms an academic village.
“We are expanding opportunities for our students to continue exploring and discussing what they have been learning in their classes as they eat with their fellow students, share a fitness class, or gather at the end of the day in a residential lounge. The new facilities provide contexts for students to enhance their classroom experiences with peer conversations that immeasurably enhance the process of learning and discovery that college represents,” Langland said.
Among the initiatives under way in Casa de Oro is the Faculty-in-Residence program. Barbara Tinsley, a professor in New College, is living in the residence hall. During the school year more than 30 faculty members from all colleges on the West campus will dine with small groups of freshmen on Wednesday nights in Verde Dining Pavilion. This initiative will facilitate students’ informal contact with faculty and introduce them to the variety of scholars and their work on the West campus, according to Tinsley.
“While living in the residence hall, I am available to talk informally with students about graduate school and career opportunities, how to be most effective in the classroom and with faculty in office hours, and offer study tips,” Tinsley said. “This is an effective way to demonstrate that learning at ASU happens in both formal and informal venues, including the residence halls.”
Student Matthew Magallanez was selected to serve as senior community assistant for the Casa de Oro and Las Casas residences. Now in his senior year, Magallanez has served as a community assistant in Las Casas since he was a sophomore.
“Casa de Oro will make an incredible impact at the West campus. The facility is amazing,” Magallanez said. “The layout and placement of Casa de Oro on campus will encourage residents to become involved within the community, which in turn will make it easy for residents to feel a sense of pride being a part of ASU. Casa de Oro allows the West campus stay true to its reputation of being a campus with all the resources of a major university, with a small-community atmosphere.”
Casa de Oro amenities include study rooms, social lounges, a community kitchen for programming use, laundry facilities, a business center, a gaming lounge and an interior landscaped courtyard. The Verde Dining Pavilion includes vegetarian and vegan options on its all-you-care-to-eat menus. The Jamba Juice formerly located in the University Center Building has relocated to the new dining facility.
The new buildings underscore the university’s commitment to providing the best possible student experience for all Sun Devils, said Mistalene Calleroz White, dean of students on the West campus.
“The energy and excitement has been building since the projects broke ground last year, and there is a collective sense of ownership and pride,” Calleroz White said. “There is a redefined core of activity for the campus as well as several new avenues through which to create community. Students who have watched the buildings go up are thrilled when they see what is on the inside; students who were gone over the summer have returned to a transformed campus.”
No state dollars or tuition revenues were used to fund the residence hall or dining facility. The $14.3-million Casa de Oro complex is built and owned by American Campus Communities, with whom ASU worked to establish the successful Barrett Honors College and Vista Del Sol projects on the Tempe campus. The project cost for the Verde Dining Pavilion, also built by American Campus Communities, is $9.5 million. ARAMARK, the dining service provider, is a contributor to the project.
In addition to New College, West campus students pursue degrees offered by ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and W. P. Carey School of Business. Qualifying West campus students also have full access to Barrett, The Honors College.