Thomas Lally, a sophomore in the Cook School of Business and president of the Residence Hall Association, served as the event’s emcee, and Shivani Thakkar, a graduate student in the College for Public Health and Social Justice, opened the ceremony with a Hindu prayer.
Several members of the SLU community made brief remarks, thanking the various committees, departments, partner companies and administrators who helped make the new hall’s planning and construction possible.
Melinda Carlson, director of Housing and Residence Life, discussed the process of completing the hall, noting that the vision for it had been in the works since 2008 thanks to Kent Porterfield, Ed.D., vice president for student development, and his team.
“Perhaps most important to the ultimate success of this facility has been the level of student engagement,” she said. “Students were at the table to discuss everything from the type of rooms, colors of paint, furniture selections, light fixtures and most importantly, helping us to identify the true purpose of this building – a space that supports the integration of the curricular and co-curricular, provides opportunities for our students to be in community with each other and creates a sustainable environment that supports the mission of the institution.”
Kevin Lynch, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and president of the Student Government Association, spoke about his own residential experience and how it influenced his life.
“Today we are not just making an investment in a building, but rather in the experience and the relationships that will shape the leaders and students of this University in the years to come,” he said. “We are making an investment in the development of an entirely new generation of Jesuit-educated leaders and the formation of a community of ‘men and women, for and with others.’”
Martha Uhlhorn, 10-year member of the Board of Trustees and chair of the board’s Student Development Committee, noted that the new space provides enhanced opportunities for outdoor classes, technology integration, exchanges of cultures through dialogue and the expansion of learning communities.
“I am proud to be a part of this moment in our history, and I look forward to doing this again next year when we open Grand Hall,” she said.
University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., also noted his pride “in everything that everyone committed to producing such a functional building, which will well serve our needs for decades to come.”
“As we approach our bicentennial in 2018, we think about the history of this institution and how we are all a part of that history and its development,” he said. “Today we celebrate an historic moment where we dedicate and bless this new residence hall. It’s exciting, but it’s part of this trajectory, part of this history. So this is one more step forward.”
Robert Murphy, S.J., concluded the ceremony with a benediction before blessing Spring Hall with holy water.
“Let us now pray that Christ will enter this residence hall and bless it with his presence,” he said. “May he always be here among us, may he nurture our love for each other, share in our joys, comfort us in our sorrows, and may we, inspired by his teaching and example, seek to make our new residence hall, before all else, a dwelling place of love, diffusing far and wide the goodness of Christ.”
University administrators, students and construction partner representatives then cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the building.
Carlson and her staff then provided guided tours of Spring Hall, and other attendees had the chance to explore the new facility on their own.
A $43 million project, Spring Hall is an eight-story complex that will house 454 freshmen and sophomore students beginning this fall. Amenities of the facility include an outdoor amphitheater, a chapel, a community kitchen and living room, student lounges, study rooms, music practice rooms, classrooms and conference rooms. Positioned to maximize sun exposure for daylight harvesting, the building is designed to LEED Silver standards and built with 20 percent recycled and 20 percent regional materials.
Grand Hall, a $71 million project, is expected to open next summer and will house an additional 530 students.