Published: Sept. 8, 2009

When University of Colorado at Boulder students moved into the newly renovated Andrews Hall this fall, they were welcomed by scores of returning students and a faculty member and his family living on the Boulder campus.

Andrews Hall, which is part of the Kittredge Complex, underwent a renovation of just over $14 million to advance a number of CU-Boulder's Flagship Initiatives including the creation of multi-year residential colleges.

"This greatly advances our Flagship 2030 strategic plan goal of offering multi-year residential academic experiences for our students who live and learn alongside their professors in residential colleges," said CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano. "To debut our Faculty in Residence program with one of our top teachers is a bonus for CU and our students. The program is a distinctive feature of undergraduate education at CU-Boulder."

Now home to the Engineering Honors Program, Andrews houses 229 undergraduates, including 67 returning students, or almost 30 percent of its total occupancy.

Highlights of the 60,588-gross-square-foot Andrews renovation include suite-style rooms with a variety of floor plans and ceiling heights, several common lounges and study areas, a community kitchen, two smart classrooms and a computer lab. The renovation has been submitted for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification and at least a Gold level is expected, campus officials said.

Lauren Schmeisser, a junior environmental engineering major, said the environment at Andrews is unique. "It's really refreshing to walk into a dorm and see a huge number of students doing things together in the common room. People here are really interested in what each other are doing," she said.

"It doesn't look like the dorm I used to live in," agreed Colin West, a Boettcher Scholar who lived in a typical double-room in the "old" Andrews as a first-year student and has now returned to a single room with its own bath for his senior year. "The selling point for me was the community kitchen because I love to cook," said West, who is double-majoring in engineering physics and applied mathematics.

The Andrews renovation also includes a small faculty apartment where Scot Douglass, associate professor and director of the Engineering Honors Program, now lives with his wife and two daughters, ages 4 and 6.

West said he expects the effect of Douglass living on campus will be significant because it extends his teaching and mentoring relationships outside the classroom: "What Scot brings to the Engineering Honors Program is encouraging us to live full lives outside of being an engineer," West said.

Schmeisser and her suite-mate, Alyssa Ritter, who co-direct student programming for the hall, said they organized a hike up one of Colorado's 14ers (mountains higher than 14,000 feet) that drew 40 students to get up at 4:30 a.m. on a recent Saturday. They also are planning open-mic nights to showcase students' musical skills, while another Andrews resident is organizing volunteers to lead engineering activities at after-school clubs held at local schools.

"The vision of Andrews is the creation of a community that is deeply ambitious without being competitive, a place where talented individuals come together to challenge, inspire and enjoy each other," Douglass explained. "There is no substitute for the educational value of living with peers who are both about something -- whether that's doing tissue-engineering research, working with Engineers Without Borders, or playing in a string quartet -- and highly successful at it. First-year students arrive in a functioning community whose expectations and standards are already set."

Douglass said the program's goal is to increase the proportion of returning students in Andrews in future years to facilitate students' successful transition from high school to the rigors and opportunities of a university education.

Douglass, who received the Boulder Faculty Assembly's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003, and the Dean's Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2009, has taught literature to engineering students since 1995 as part of the Herbst Program of Humanities for Engineers. The son of an electrical engineer, Douglass studied genetics as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona and theology as a master's student at Dallas Seminary, before earning his doctorate in comparative literature at CU-Boulder.

A CU-Boulder video on Douglass and the Faculty in Residence program can be viewed at