Living, Learning, and Lovin' It! Tours of Commencement Hall

October 15, 2013

President Thomas Kicks off Homecoming & Family Weekend
Tours of new hall offered 6–7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25

TACOMA, Wash. – University of Puget Sound will welcome alumni and student families to an open house at Commencement Hall, the new student residence for scholarly, peer-group living, on Friday, Oct. 25.

President Ronald R. Thomas will that day kick off Homecoming and Family Weekend, welcoming hundreds of Puget Sound alumni and student family members back to campus to meet old friends and make new ones, over two days of social and informational activities. The guests will attend a welcome reception on the Event Lawn from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and will be invited to join guided tours of Commencement Hall.

Once inside the new Tudor-Gothic building, with its modern interiors, giant fireplace, and views of Mount Rainier, visitors will be welcomed by George Erving, associate professor of humanities, honors, and English, and director of the Honors Program and Humanities House communities within the hall. Poster displays in the Tahoma Room event space will describe the hall’s academic residential programs and photos of the building will reveal the scope of the project.

Commencement Hall fulfills Puget Sound’s vision of extending intellectual conversation beyond the classroom and into a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week living and learning experience for students. The new space also allows more upper-level students to live on campus and enjoy the great variety of amenities and activities—an experience shown to improve students’ commitment toward completing their four years of study.

Opened in late August, the new residence hall is home to 135 students who live in 11 themed “houses.” Each house has nine to 14 individual bedrooms surrounding “great rooms” with communal kitchens and living areas. The five residential academic communities include:

  • Entrepreneurship House
  • Environmental Outdoor Leadership Community
  • Honors Program
  • Humanities House
  • Michel Rocchi International District

“It has been a very good experience,” said Robin Wilson ’14, a business leadership and computer science double major who moved into Entrepreneurship House this semester. “It’s very nice to have people around who all are working toward the same thing. Some of them take the same class, and before class they study together in the lounge. We all help each other.”

Professors and staff members will partner with the student residents to create experiences that encourage each peer group to explore the scholarship of their special area and to share it with others. Events may be hosted by students in the hall’s spacious Tahoma Room meeting space, the seminar room, or the outdoor patio areas—or they may take place off campus.

Those currently taking the lead in each house include: Lynnette Claire, associate professor of business and leadership (Entrepreneurship); Justin Canny, assistant director for outdoor programs, and Dan Sherman, associate professor of environmental studies (Environmental Outdoor Leadership); George Erving, associate professor of humanities, honors, and English (Humanities and Honors); and Roy Robinson, director of international programs (Michel Rocchi International District).

Ideas for activities abound. So far these include study abroad student picture nights, arts-oriented talks alongside student-cooked dinners, community service focused on foreign cultures or environmental issues, business plan competitions, open mic nights and talent shows, and informal discussions of the classics.

Commencement Hall, a 55,000-square-foot building overlooking Commencement Walk in the center of campus, is designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Work is continuing on the building, with plans to complete a media viewing room, classroom, and an open space designed for activities such as martial arts, dance, and yoga by early 2014.

Contractors: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, architect; Korsmo Construction, general contractor; AHBL, civil and structural engineer; WSP Flack & Kurtz, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection; Berger Partnership, landscape architect; Candela, lighting design.

For more about Homecoming and Family Weekend visit:

For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound
For accessibility information please contact or 253.879.3236, or visit

Press photos of Commencement Hall can be downloaded from:
Photos on page: Top two: Commencement Hall; Above right: Students involved with the outdoors program kayaking; Above left: Students in the PacRim study abroad program pose with the Dalai Lama.

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