Published: Aug. 24, 2011

MSU expands initiative bringing services closer to students

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Communications and Brand Strategy, Kelley Bishop Student Affairs and Services office: (517) 884-1348

EAST LANSING, Mich. — After last year’s successful start on the east side of the Michigan State University campus, the MSU Neighborhoods initiative – a new concept in on-campus living that brings a variety of student services to one location – is expanding.

This semester, which begins Aug. 31, the initiative moves to the west and south sides of campus, setting up shop in the newly remodeled Brody Neighborhood, as well as Holden Hall.

MSU Neighborhoods is a new model for supporting student success, bringing together where students live and learn as well as other services they need. It focuses on four central themes: intercultural development, academic support, residential support, and health and wellness.

"The Neighborhoods initiative deliberately works to create a new model of student support," said MSU Senior Associate Provost June Youatt. "It isn't about combining a cluster of residence halls; it's about the students in those residence halls discovering and creating their own communities in a setting that provides innovative, integrated support services, located right where they live and learn."

The hub of the neighborhoods is the engagement center which houses the resources – from academic to social to health – in one central location. It is here that students gather not only to socialize, but to study, get academic assistance, or even see a health care provider.

MSU Neighborhoods began last fall with the opening of the Hubbard Hall Engagement Center, the hub of activity for MSU’s East Neighborhood, which consists of Holmes, Akers and, of course, Hubbard halls.

Expansion to MSU’s west and south sides is the next step in a process to eventually encompass the entire campus. When the project is fully operational, MSU will consist of five unique undergraduate neighborhoods and Spartan Village, and a soon-to-come-online virtual neighborhood.

“The Neighborhoods Project is more than just having people from different places coming together to live,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “It’s people from a variety of places interacting with one another, getting to know and learn about one another and their cultures and traditions.”

“Our first year brought tremendous success,” said Philip Strong, who served as director of the Hubbard Engagement Center. “We made great strides in what was a pretty quick turnaround time.”

There are early indications that East Neighborhood students, by taking advantage of the on-site math and writing services, performed better in those classes than other students.

One reason for the academic success, particularly in math, is that the math department was able to “customize” the services it provided.

“The math department came in and said ‘who are the students living in Hubbard? What math classes are they taking?’” said Vennie Gore, MSU’s assistant vice president for residential and hospitality services. “And then they customized their assistance for the classes they were taking.”

Simon said this ability to customize and the gathering of input from the students are what will continue to make MSU Neighborhoods so successful.

“It has evolved in a way that one could not have imagined at the beginning,” she said. “It’s always going to be dynamic because the people who live there will have a strong voice in how it evolves – taking this set of assets, this set of services and shaping them in ways that best meet their needs.”

Additionally, new directors for the three neighborhoods have been appointed: Kelly High McCord will direct the Brody Neighborhood; Terry Walsh the South Neighborhood; and Reggie Noto will succeed Strong as director of the East Neighborhood.

Additional information on MSU Neighborhoods is available at

Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.


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Vennie Gore is MSU's assistant vice president for Residential and Hospitality Services.

Vennie Gore is MSU's assistant vice president for Residential and Hospitality Services.

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