New learning project proposed

The University may have a new learning community, but it won’t be coming anytime soon, or even on campus.

In 2004, Calderon Properties Ltd. and the University began collaboration on The Dunbridge Project, a potential state-of-the art living and learning community that would give students the opportunity to learn by doing.

There are currently 13 residential learning and theme communities at BGSU, but according to Associate Dean of Students Jeff Coats, the Dunbridge Project would be different.

The Dunbridge Project would further prepare students for life in the real world through hands-on learning.

“It’s a joint academic-residential venture,” he said.

The Dunbridge Project, although still in the planning stages, would allow students to live in University housing while gaining experience in their field of study, all in the same location.

Deanna Vatan Woodhouse, president of Graduate Student Senate, said the benefits of having students live together in a community like the Dunbridge Project are clear.

“It would give students the opportunity to exchange opinions and ideas and grow from the learning experience,” she said.

Woodhouse believes the community could incorporate many different majors into the project. “There’s talk of gerontology, health and human services, business and environmental studies,”

Woodhouse said.

The idea of incorporating the study and the use of energy technology is also being considered. Green Team working groups have been created to identify ways that transportation, water use, landscaping, building materials and energy use can be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Since day one, student opinions have been a major part of the planning.

According to Louis Benedict, a doctoral student who serves as a graduate assistant, a lot of the planning is being based off of a housing survey that was previously sent out to students via e-mail. The survey, which was distributed by MGT Inc., a College Consulting company, was designed to consider what students look for in University housing.

Focus groups have also been created to incorporate all aspects of student life into The Dunbridge Project, including a potential for retail space in the community.

The Dunbridge Project would be located on the east side of Interstate 75, across the street from Meijer on land owned by the Calderon Family. The University currently has a long-term lease on the 93-acre site and has zoning permits for both multi-family and commercial use.

Although The Dunbridge Project has a potential opening date for the Fall 2008, the University is trying not to rush through planning and into construction.

“They want to take their time on it,” Benedict said. “So they can make it a good project.”