Something historic became new again at Arkansas Tech University on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Wilson Residence Hall, a structure that dates back to the beginning of the institution more than 100 years ago, re-opened and welcomed its fall 2016 freshmen residents after being closed since spring 2015 for renovations.
By the time the returning students move in and class begins on Wednesday, Aug. 24, the refurbished Wilson Residence Hall will house 164 students.
Megan Bryant, a junior rehabilitation science and psychology major from Rogers, is among the resident assistants who greeted the freshmen on Saturday and will help them make the transition to life at Arkansas Tech.
“It’s wonderful,” said Bryant when asked about the improvements to Wilson Residence Hall. “I was able to see it before it was closed down, so coming back this semester and looking around at the building…it’s mesmerizing. The floors are nice and they did a great job on the crown molding. I really like it here and hope our residents will too. The Office of Residence Life has helped us with anything we’ve needed. I’ve been putting study tips and stress tips up on my wall…we want the students to feel comfortable here.”
A colonial revival structure built from 1910-13, Wilson Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
It is named for Judge R.B. Wilson, who helped lead the effort to locate the Second District Agricultural School (known today as Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville and served on the institution’s Board of Trustees from 1913-27.
Improvements performed during the 2015-16 renovation of Wilson Residence Hall included the installation of central heat and air, a new hot water system, interior water sprinklers, a new fire alarm system, wireless Internet, interior facility renovations and storm windows.
Funding for the $4.17 million project came from grants through the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council and the sale of revenue bonds.
Funds from ANCRC grants have previously helped Arkansas Tech renovate Browning Hall, Caraway Hall and Hughes Hall. All three structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now, another historic structure at Arkansas Tech is new again. The result is a facility that will serve as a home away from home for Tech students for many years to come.
“We are student mentors,” said Bryant in describing the job of a resident assistant. “We want to help them along the way. My first resident assistant was really helpful, and it’s a very welcoming experience when it is that way. I want to be like that and make an impression on our residents so they want to stay because ever since that, Tech has been my home.”
Arkansas Tech freshmen will participate in a series of social activities designed to integrate them into the campus culture through Sunday, Aug. 21. Formal orientation activities for the Arkansas Tech Class of 2020 will begin on Monday, Aug. 22, and Arkansas Tech Welcome Week events will continue through Saturday, Aug. 27.