Honors College renderingThe Arizona Board of Regents approved construction of Northern Arizona University’s Honors College Living and Learning Community at its meeting in Tucson last week.

The 204,656-square-foot building, which is going up at University Drive and Knoles Drive, includes bedrooms, classrooms, a student advising center and study areas. It is a state-of-the-art building designed to be a place where Honors College students can live, study, congregate and collaborate with others who are passionate about learning and creating.

“We are pleased to see an increasing number of top-performing students choose NAU, and programs like the Honors College play a major role in attracting and engaging these students,” President Rita Cheng said. “This facility is an example of our commitment to make NAU home for the region’s best and brightest.”

The Honors College is the oldest honors program in Arizona, and it continues to grow; enrollment increased by 24 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. NAU recently changed the Honors Program into an Honors College, allowing for greater recruitment and retention opportunities for the top talent in the state.

Participation in the Honors College allows undergraduate students to take specialized courses, including a capstone course, access the Honors Writing Center and do research. Establishing classes specifically for Honors students provides them the opportunity to break out of traditional classroom settings and mentor their peers.

Wolf Gumerman, director of the Honors College, said students are put on flexible and rigorous pathways to help them achieve their educational and career goals, offering access to research and a thesis, internships, faculty mentors and more.

“For high-achieving students, the benefits are amazing,” he said. “Our classes are smaller and more discussion-based, and the new curriculum is really driven by the students’ interests.”

Preliminary work to address infrastructure began in the fall, with construction beginning this summer. With the addition of the Honors community, which is scheduled to open in fall 2018, and SkyView, which opens this fall, NAU will add nearly 1,300 on-campus beds in less than 18 months, allowing the university to remain in the top 1 percent of universities nationwide providing on-campus housing.

“I am excited to see the Honors Residential College move forward and break ground next week,” said Rich Payne, executive director of Housing and Residence Life. “This facility will help NAU recruit and retain highly motivated scholars to the Honors College and provide a new high-profile home to students, dedicated faculty and staff where students will enjoy rich in and out of classroom activities and interactions in state-of-the-art surroundings.”