Grand Hall’s grand opening

“What might happen in these halls?” This was the question on Chairman of the Saint Louis University Board of Trustees, Joseph Conran’s, mind, as well as all those gathered to witness the opening of Grand Hall on Aug. 8th, 2017.
In the planning books since 2008, Grand Hall sits at the corner of Laclede and Grand, boasting seven floors, 528 rooms and a balcony with a panoramic view of the city. Described as “spectacular” by SGA President Daniel Carter, the opening ceremony provided the opportunity for students, parents, professors, board members and the rest of the SLU community to peek inside the halls of what students would soon be calling their second home.

Built with the students and the future in mind, Grand Hall includes state-of-the-art dining facilities, study rooms, collaboration spaces, an interfaith chapel, non-binary bathrooms and Wudu prayer washing stations for Muslim students. “I have never seen a building that better allows for the care of the whole person, mind, body and spirit,” said Carter.

As referenced not only by Carter, but Martha Uhlhorn, Chair of Student Development Committee on the Board of Trustees, states that many studies have shown that students thrive and learn better when they feel at home in their residence spaces. “We believe that the places the students live, learn and socialize are crucial to their time at SLU and ultimately their success in the world,” said Uhlhorn. One such study comes from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) which found that students who live comfortably in residence halls spend more time preparing for class, followed by relaxation and socializing, co-curricular activities and community service. Students that live in such environments also report a higher quality of interaction with peers and professors.

Not only does Grand Hall play an important role in student success, but in the success of the University and surrounding region as well. As Saint Louis University celebrates its 200th year of existence, the opening of the new residence hall was a change to reflect on the past. As mentioned by Dr. Fred Pestello, President of Saint Louis University, when the University was founded in 1818, as many people lived in the region as are currently enrolled in the school today. Since then, the University and the city of St. Louis have grown to include 79 neighborhoods, world renowned hospitals, famous venues and billion-dollar enterprises — all with Saint Louis University as “the engine driving this region,” stated Pestello.

Grand Hall is just the beginning for a much larger residential plan as the Housing and Residential Department works to create a more centralized campus.

What might happen in halls of Grand Hall? As the end of the second week of school approaches, the possibilities have yet to cease and all can rest assured that it will remain the case for the next 200 years.