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Two new pavilions expected to stimulate student engagement and creative learning

Natasha Nader / News Editor

The Elon University campus continues to evolve as two new pavilions will be added to the Academic Village within the next year.

While new construction is emerging everywhere on campus from the new Oaks Apartments to the Koury Business Center, students and faculty seemed elated about the new pavilions that will focus on the liberal arts.

"This is a moment when we begin to feel what this vision will actually look like," Anthony Weston, chair of the philosophy department, said.

The groundbreaking ceremonies for the two pavilions were held at College Coffee on Tuesday. The William Henry Belk Pavilion will house Elon's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and the Luvene Holmes and Royall H. Spence, Jr. Pavilion will house the philosophy and religious studies departments. These will be the fourth and fifth pavilions in the Academic Village. Construction on the pavilions will begin in May and is expected to be completed in May

2007 in time for classes to begin in the fall.

Peter Felten, director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, said the Belk Pavilion will have innovative classrooms that will be the quivalent of a scientist's labratory or an artist's studio.

"This new pavilion will be a place where creative ideas can incubate and develop, places of experimentation and exploration," Felten said.

"It will be a creative and catalytic space for student engagement at Elon."

With Elon being named by Newsweek as "America's hottest college for student engagement," the building of these pavilions serves to exemplify the focus of engagement on the campus, several speakers pointed out.

Felten said that while many schools across the country talk about what could happen if they had certain things, Elon is dedicated to making it happen.

"Elon is going beyond the 'if we' phase and onto the experiment phase," he said.

 Annie Dawson, assistant director of Residence Life, also said the pavilions show Elon's commitment to engaged learning.

"There's really a commitment to the uniqueness of a close-knit community between faculty and students," she said.

The setup of the pavilion is designed in a way that will foster new methods of teaching and provide for a more interactive atmosphere in the classroom. Flexible furniture arrangement and the latest in technology and video equipment will give faculty members the opportunity to create different setups that correlate with their lessons. It will also give faculty members a chance to observe and evaluate their performance in the classroom and, with the permission of students,  record what goes on in the classroom for research on how students learn and work in small groups.

Trustee Emeritus Royall Spence Jr., who graduated from Elon in 1942, said that he had no idea that Elon would be where it is today and is happy that the university is continuing to make strides.

"This new building will help bring people in those fields together, and they can hopefully make academic progress," he said.

Both students and faculty members are excited about the pavilion and expect that it will create an atmosphere conducive to both learning and engagement.

"I look forward to having a place where professors and students of both religion and philosophy can meet together and have a home to expand their wisdom for years to come," Martin Fowler, assistant professor of philosophy, said.

Jeffrey Pugh, chair of the religious studies department, said that the Spence Pavilion will be a place where transformation will occur in students' lives.

"The building will be more than just bricks and mortar for the Elon community," he said.

Senior religion major Becky Schrier said this is an exciting time for the department.

"The pavilion shows how far the religious department has come," she said. "I'm a senior so I have seen it flourish."

According to campus officials, the house used by the Philosophy department on the corner of East College and North Antioch avenues will stay where it is for another year during the duration of the building process. It will then be knocked down after the pavilion is built. The red-brick house used by the Sociology and Anthropology departments will be moved around the corner and will be put in the place of the existing duplex next to the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.

The Holland House will still remain the Center for Advancement of Teaching and   Learning and faculty office space while officials wait

to determine whether a sixth pavilion will go up in that location. The area at the south end of the Academic Village will eventually have a building with a rotunda and all of the pavilions will be linked by colonnades and a covered walkway like those outside the library and Koury Center.

"At this moment we take a major and critical step toward that kind of enclosed and inviting space," Weston said.

Contact Natasha Nader at or 278-7247.

Jessica Frizen / Photographer

President Leo Lambert said Tuesday's College Coffee was "historic" as grounds were broken for a Spence and Belk Pavillions.

Jessica Frizen / Photographer

President Emeritus Earl Danieley and Roger Gant Jr. discuss future plans for the Academic Village.