Penny's coffee shop in Hillsdale College's new, unnamed dorm.

Making Home at Hillsdale

Intentionality lives at the heart of the yet-unnamed New Dorm, which opened last fall as an upperclassman women’s dorm on the east side of campus. From the building layout, to the furniture and decor, to the young women who live inside, each detail exists to help make Hillsdale a home of its own. “We were paying attention to the aesthetic of the place, so that it feels like a home, and not an institution,” says Rebekah Dell, associate dean of women.

Head Resident Assistant Annie Ingham, ’20, set the tone for the dorm when she talked with dorm residents about “living in community.” She says, “I wanted them to focus on identity rooted in the other, how we love and serve others, and how living in a dorm is representative of that.” Ingham says that as a freshman, her own RAs were a big part of what encouraged her to have such a great time at Hillsdale. Having been an RA in Olds Dormitory her sophomore year, Ingham recalls watching the freshmen make the dorm their home. Now she is helping upperclassmen continue to make Hillsdale a place of their own.

The New Dorm features double rooms with community bathrooms, a full-sized kitchen, and several study spaces designed to facilitate both community building and academic study, Dell says.

The New Dorm also has a brand-new coffee shop, Penny’s, which is open to the public. The shop is named for President Arnn’s wife, Penny. With a modern look and unique coffee roasts and blends, the shop hopes to build community on campus. The idea for the shop was born from a student leadership workshop, where campus leaders come together to brainstorm ways to improve life for students. “The coffee shop is student-created, student-managed, and student-driven,” Dell says.

All campus dorms host various programs throughout the semester, involving different focuses: academic, philanthropic, wellness, and social. These events help foster community within the dorm and among the students, and encourage involvement in various activities provided by the College. Dorms have run charity donation drives and invited Career Services to conduct resume-writing classes—all bringing people together around these four pillars.

While all students leave home to come to campus, they ultimately find ways to make a special place in Hillsdale. Dell says, “A dorm isn’t just a place where the student sleeps; it is a home.”

This article was originally published in the Winter 2019 edition of Hillsdale: The Official Magazine of the Hillsdale College Alumni Association.