'Smart' classrooms, ritzy dorms lure 'Millennials'
Local colleges are rushing to build high-tech classrooms and plush
dormitories for a new breed of students who grew up with the Internet
were pampered by parents.
Xavier University is planning a new campus quadrangle with high-tech
classrooms and a ritzy residence hall to oblige what school officials
the "Baby on Board" generation or the "Millennials" coming of age at
turn of the millennium.
"Their parents posted 'Baby on Board' signs in their cars. They have
protected as children. Their free time was replaced by organized
and structured programs. They have a high need for achievement and
attention," said Xavier spokeswoman Kelly Leon.
She said this generation prefers learning from hands-on experience,
technology-generated education, and feels comfortable working in
"Millennial students do not learn in the traditional ways of 50, 30 or
10 years ago," said Xavier President Michael Graham. "We need to adapt
campus to their needs and changing times."
Northern Kentucky University boasts a $38 million state-of-the-art
building and a $14 million suite-style dormitory and is planning a
$34 million student union building.
"These new developments for higher education are not at all new for
students coming out of high school," said NKU President James Votruba.
"Today's youngsters have lived with high-technology from video arcades
cell phones, and many have their own computers.
"At home, most have not shared a bedroom and many have not shared a
bathroom. When they come to college, they expect the same creature
comforts. That puts pressure on all colleges because there is
for these students."
This pressure on area colleges mirrors a national trend by educators
accommodate changes in society.
Gateway Community and Technical College is building a new main campus
Boone County and launching a $15 million expansion of its nursing
on the Edgewood campus.
"Community and technical colleges especially have to be on the leading
of technology," said Gateway President Edward Hughes. "If we're not
utilizing leading-edge equipment, then we're not preparing students
what they're going to find in the real world.
"For example, hospitals are becoming paperless. Charts aren't written,
they're electronically produced. Prescriptions are becoming more
electronic. If you're not providing nursing or pharmacy students with
knowledge of how that technology works, they will find themselves
an island at work."
The University of Cincinnati is renovating buildings to turn them into
called "smart classrooms" with Internet connections, computers that
DVDs and projectors that display documents.
"I teach a class in public relations, and in a standard classroom
like teaching blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back," said
spokesman Greg Hand.
"In a smart classroom, for instance, if I'm talking about how to
interview, I can call up an interview off the National Public Radio
site to use as an example. I can call up a transcript of that
"I can walk students through something I heard on the way to work that
- something that is alive and relevant to today's students."
UC is even catering to the changing eating habits of students by
new types of food service.
"Students don't want to eat at set hours or set meals," said Hand. "We
a place called Market Point with several food stations like deli,
pasta and salads. It's more like a buffet than a cafeteria.
"When students say they're vegetarian, that doesn't mean they just
meat, they want a full range of vegetarian selections."
Thomas More College is raising $2.5 million to renovate its science
facilities, which were built in 1971.
President Sister Margaret Stallmeyer said the upgrade is essential to
compete with other area colleges that have made similar improvements.
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College recently opened a
$55 million building that provides high-tech classrooms, student
racquetball courts, a fitness center and a bakery.
The College of Mount St. Joseph is in the midst of a $21.5 million
construction project that includes new facilities for athletics and
activities and renovation of a residence hall to add suites for more
Miami University last weekend announced a $350 million fund-raising
for a myriad of projects, including classroom renovations, a new fine
facility, a new student center at the Middletown campus and a
on the Hamilton campus.
The building boom is expensive, but there's no choice if colleges are
keep up with technology and provide what students need to succeed in a
rapidly evolving world, said Hughes, the Gateway president.
"If a college stood pat, it would lose ground rapidly," he said. "Much
technology is outdated within a year. The life expectancy of some
technology is three to six months.
"One of the most challenging issues faced by colleges is how to stay
with the changes of technology. We have a technology team that looks
technology and decides what we can afford."
Votruba, the NKU president, said despite the high cost, "it's
all colleges to stay up with the times and invest in the things that
enhance student experience."
Once high-tech equipment is purchased, it sometimes can be a challenge
"We've had to ratchet up security across campus because we've been
$40,000 of equipment a year," noted Votruba. "Stealing chalk is one
but stealing an overhead projector is something else."
Kind of confirms that we're jsut raising a huge nation of wusses who'll
be unable to deal with adversity, the elements and the usual things that
come with life.
It used to be that we learned by experience. If we did something that
hurt, we wouldn't do it again. If we did something that was smart and
worked, we'd do it again. The whole concept of learning from experience
seems pointless now.
We've spent so much time "protecting our children" that we've forgotten
that life itself is not protected.