By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
McDonald Hall has become a place of community and friendship-for men.
Last spring, Dr. Mimi Barnard, director of Residence Life Education and Housing, announced the residence hall would be converted from a sophomore women’s hall to a male living and learning community for mostly Bible and business majors.
Freshmen in these departments were invited, after arriving at the university, to move with their roommate to McDonald, where the pair would have their own rooms but live near each other. Because of this, not all residents are Bible or business majors.
Bob Booth, director of the hall, said he has been encouraged by the friendships being made between the men.
“They are very community-oriented,” he said, “and I’m surprised that they’re as quiet as they are, based on that.”
Booth said they do a lot of playing spades and sitting out and talking, and the hall went on a group trip to a Rangers baseball game Sunday.
“They’re getting along great,” Booth said.
He said one good thing about studying in the hall is that “you can shut yourself off from community with one quick swing of the door. [On the] downside, you can shut yourself off from community with one quick swing of the door.”
Booth said his staff has been attentive to this and tries to engage the residents as much as possible and invite them out of their rooms.
Also, Randy Harris, instructor of Bible, ministry and missions, has helped the staff with room check a couple of nights.
“Randy’s been somebody that I wanted to get plugged in with that group as soon as possible because I think that he has such a powerful influence,” Booth said. “Just his own personal devotion to God and his heart to seek God really pours forth into other people.”
Booth said it was Harris’ idea to get involved, and he hopes more faculty will consider it.
“I’m excited about faculty who are stretching out and leaving the convenient opportunity in the sense that you have a home that holds 62 people, so you can really meet a lot of people at the same time,” he said.
Barnard said she is pleased with the results so far, and this idea is not unique to ACU.
“There really is a lot of theory and practice that goes into what’s happening in McDonald,” Barnard said. “There are schools across the United States who build specific buildings … in an effort to assist their holistic development and their studying and all kinds of things.”
She said the decision to create this community was based in part on admissions predictions.
“We kind of had a glimmer, a forecast of what this year might be like last year,” she said, “and so admissions told me to expect at least as many freshman males as we had quadrupled in Edwards, and that was 32.”
Barnard said she considered how best she could use McDonald, and after she made the decision to make it a male hall, she found out there would be many women enrolled also.
“Which is a wonderful problem to have,” she said, “but goodness, I hope we never have to do it again.”