Take a look at AU’s newest residence hall

August 21, 2022

Aurora University has opened a new residence hall, supporting the university’s mission to enrich campus life through diversity and inclusivity.

The five-story building, named West Hall, functions as both a living and a learning center. It offers 70 resident rooms, study rooms on every floor, and a fitness center. Housing is geared toward juniors and seniors, as well as students enrolled in AU’s Pathways program for individuals with autism.

The university’s Betty Parke Tucker Center for Neurodiversity is located on the ground floor and includes offices for Pathways program staff and educational spaces for Pathways students.

By housing both students in the Pathways program and those who are not, the building is designed to foster a community that is supportive and inclusive. AU is welcoming the inaugural class of students in the Pathways program for the 2022–2023 academic year.

“At Aurora University, we are proud to open the doors of our inclusive institution to new groups of learners,” said Jennifer Buckley, senior vice president for student success at AU. “The new residence hall is an important part of the university’s effort to integrate students with autism into campus life.”

Rooms that support the senses

The interiors throughout the building are intentionally designed with the goal of alleviating anxiety so that students can focus their energy and emotions on a positive college experience. The features include common spaces with flexible seating, acoustic panels on ceilings and walls to reduce noise, patterns that limit visual stimuli, adjustable lighting, and pale colors.

The Mesirow Learning Lab is the centerpiece of the Tucker Center for Neurodiversity. With a blend of high-tech and soothing capacities, the space is well-suited for programs designed to help students develop vital executive functioning skills, social skills, and learning strategies. The state-of-the art teaching resource is made possible through a generous commitment from Mesirow, a Chicago-based financial services firm.

Please do touch the artwork

In late September, local artist Rita Grendze will bring her creativity to the Mesirow Learning Lab with a sensory artwork installation designed specifically for AU. Grendze is inviting the AU community to participate in the installation by cutting and rolling the wool rosettes that are a key element of the design. The artwork, titled “Promise Blooming,” is intended to serve as a unique sensory experience and signs will encourage viewers to touch the artwork.

The last residence hall constructed on AU campus was Centennial Hall in 2011. With the addition of West Hall, AU residence halls have the capacity to house more than 750 students on the main campus.