Rendering of Armstrong Hall Advising Hub

Student success at core of Armstrong Hall

By

Anna Consie

The numbers are in: 46,000 square feet, 40 professional staff, three advising hubs and one career center.

This is what Armstrong Hall, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' new home, will dedicate to ensure students thrive during their time at Arizona State University and after they graduate.

The college's first stand-alone building since it was founded in 1954 will total 98,471 square feet of renovated space, with nearly half devoted to supporting students as they pursue their academic and career goals.

From first-year advising to post-graduation planning, the building's first floor is being designed with students’ needs in mind. Paul LePore, associate dean for student and academic programs, sees it as a space that's at the heart of the college's mission.

“With our move to Armstrong Hall, the college is now able to create a home and a welcoming site for all of our new students," LePore said. "For the first time, we will have the opportunity to link every one of our new undergraduates to all of the people and programs that support student success, such as academic advising, career counseling, engagement opportunities, and connections to the wider community through internships and meeting our college's alumni.”

Advising

Beginning with the incoming class of 2018, freshmen and new transfer students will receive advising in one of three hubs in Armstrong Hall. The advising hubs for humanities, natural sciences and social sciences will help students establish a broad base as they navigate their first year at ASU. Students will also take a liberal arts and sciences-specific student success course, LIA 101, taught by an academic advisor from their hub.

During their second year, students will meet with advisors from one of the 20 academic units within the college, ranging from the Department of English to the School of Earth and Space Exploration, allowing them to receive extensive, discipline-specific knowledge and assistance.

The change from the current model is designed to help students better navigate the stressors of their first year at ASU, while helping them benefit from a richer pool of knowledge unique to their major.

“The first floor of Armstrong Hall provides a one-stop hub for students to have all of their needs addressed, from exploring majors and launching their careers to answering questions about financing their studies and getting connected to amazing opportunities through internships, research, study abroad and more," said Michele Daley, senior director of recruitment and first-year programs. "We want to help students create an outstanding undergraduate experience.”

Students who are considering changing their major will also work with advisors in the Armstrong Hall hub in order to make the transition easier to navigate, Daley said.

Futures Center

In order to prepare students for life after graduation, the college is launching a new initiative to strengthen and deepen the student experience through real-world opportunities and graduate school preparation.

The Futures Center, a partnership between ASU's Office of Career and Professional Development Services as well as committed alumni and business partners, will help students prepare for the next stages of life. There will be a variety of career-readiness opportunities, such as internships and workshops, plus pre-professional advising for medical school, law school and educator roles.

"We want to help students get their dream job and we want them to start on that path from their first day on campus," said Cindy Parnell, executive director of ASU's Career and Professional Development Services. "The Futures Center will help with everything from discovering career options to building strategic skill sets so students are ready to take that next step once they graduate."

Students in the college will have a wide variety of personalized opportunities available to them, including career workshops, employer information sessions, practice interviews and professional development opportunities.

Alumni and business partners have been involved in the planning from the beginning, according to Parnell, and the goal is to provide one-on-one mentoring, networking and internship opportunities through targeted, customized experiences relevant to students' majors and career paths.

New spaces

Starting from the outside in, the renovated space will provide multiple student-focused spaces to encourage collaboration, studying and gathering.

The goal, LePore said, is for students to feel at home in the building.

A new outdoor courtyard in between Armstrong Hall and Ross Blakley Hall will provide a flexible space for students to gather and will convert to presentation space for lectures and small events.

A new cafe space on the first floor, which will be home to an Einstein's Express, will feature a mixture of standing and sitting-height tables, including a large group study table. Two groupings of lounge chairs and long benches with laptop tables will provide multiple study options and a tech counter with plugs and USB charging ports will be available.

Three rooms will be available to students on the first floor for group projects, meetings and mock interviews. Students will be able to reserve the rooms through an online system, allowing them to block time quickly and easily.

When the building opens in May, the basement will feature one classroom and a large open study area. Within the next few years, the basement will be remodeled to include five or more classrooms as well as study space.

The Great Hall, which currently seats up to 350 students, is being updated with new audiovisual systems. Long term, the college plans to remodel the space with the latest classroom learning technologies.

“We can’t wait to open the doors this May and welcome all of our new Sun Devils and their families to Armstrong Hall, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and to Arizona State University,” LePore said.