Photography by Bob Mescavage

Suffering from a serious case of freshman jitters, Lori Zisk Rosner ’76, G’77 pulled up in front of Shaw Hall in fall 1972. Members of the Goon Squad—the University’s official welcoming committee, then 500 students strong—practically attacked our car,” Rosner remembers. “They carried everything to my room, answered a million questions, then returned that night to answer more questions.”
      It was the warmest of welcomes, but it ended when the Goon Squad left the residence hall that night. “After that, I don’t remember getting much direction,” Rosner says. “When it came to registering for classes, meeting faculty, and making academic connections, I was on my own.” The outgoing Rosner persevered and eventually became a resident advisor (RA) and Goon Squad president. “Adjusting to a school as big as Syracuse was a scary experience,” Rosner says. “You survived it, but you didn’t forget how frightened you were at first.”
      When Jamey Van Epps ’03 arrived last fall, settling into SU was far more structured—and supportive. After his own big Goon Squad welcome, Van Epps was escorted into the cocoon-like School of Management Learning Community in Boland Hall. This intensive, semester-long residential experience is designed to help students establish roots—fast. Van Epps spent his first weekend at an off-campus ropes course, bonding and team-building with the 25 first-year management students who would share his classes that semester. Some of those classes were held in a cozy study lounge down the hall from his room.
      Van Epps says the carefully orchestrated learning community gave him a sense of family, and a jump start academically. “In a class where you know everybody, you speak up a lot more,” he says.
      The three-year-old School of Management Learning Community represents a bright new residential option for first-year students—and a growing conviction that building bridges between the University’s academic and residential worlds boosts student satisfaction, retention, and the quality of learning. This year there are five theme and learning communities in SU’s residence halls, each with a distinct focus: Management, Honors, Women in Science and Engineering, Multicultural Living/ Learning, and Leadership Challenge. Students also can live on theme floors designed to support certain lifestyles, such as wellness or substance-free living.

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