Photo Credit Jan Garrison
August 9, 2016

Editor’s Note: A new wing, a new dorm, and a new student leadership team. Here’s the story behind Harbor Dorm, Culver Girls Academy’s New Kid on the Block.

Call it What You Want

Later this month, Harbor Dorm, the eighth Culver Girls Academy dorm, will officially open in Argonne Hall. The name, submitted by Atrium Counselor Diane Hansen ’75, was selected from nearly 30 nominated names and was determined by a vote of the CGA students. The abbreviation for Harbor Dorm will be GH.

Ultimately, the name chosen by the CGA community also happened to coincide nicely with a common theme of architectural names used in the neighboring Argonne and Chateau Thierry dorms: Atrium, Tower, and Court. Hansen’s inspiration for the name, she proclaims, “We look out from Argonne and the new Hegeler wing and see beautiful Aubbenaubee Bay, and it reminds me of a safe harbor. A place for shelter and refuge from rough waters and harsh weather. Our new dorm — Harbor Dorm — will be a safe harbor to shelter, protect, and support CGA girls.” Mapping out the layout of the dorm units within the buildings was another challenge that took some creativity to ensure that each dorm shares and equally desirable format, a process Diane Hansen was also actively involved in.

Step By Step

Harbor Dorm took shape with the construction of the Hegeler Wing on Argonne dormitory. Started in 2014, the project was made possible through a gift from Julius W. Hegeler II, a Woodcraft camper from 1938-1939. The new addition created additional rooms, while there were renovations to some space previously used as dorm rooms in order to create lounges and shared living areas. With this new wing, dorm space across campus can become less crowded, allowing for some rooms previously used as triples to become doubles, and the addition of lounges and shared living areas can make gathering together as a dorm and holding dorm meetings far more comfortable. Other components of the renovation include the installation of an elevator to make move-in and move-out days a smoother process for the 4-story dormitory, as well as the inclusion of air conditioning.

The actual creation of a separate unit for girls this coming academic year is an effort to moderate the sizes of the girls’ dorms. Dean of Girls Lynn Rasch ’76 was part of the exciting discussion from the beginning: “Student Life had been talking for a while about the advantages of a smaller dorm size, and the conversation to create a new unit first began with the news of the Hegeler Wing project.”

Just as Culver strives to keep class sizes small, the smaller units give counselors and resident directors, more affectionately known as “dorm moms,” a better chance at discovering each individual girl’s unique needs and strengths.

Hangin’ Tough

Girls from each dorm were invited to apply to move into the new dorm, which had high interest, especially with rising sophomores ready to take on the challenge of building a foundation for this new girls’ unit. Rasch was pleased at the number of interested applicants, affirming, “CGA truly rose to the occasion. Although some students may have been hesitant to take on the challenge of forming a new dorm, many saw it as an opportunity to offer their leadership capabilities to serve the CGA community.”

Keeping in mind that they didn’t want to put other dorms at a disadvantage, and that blending together a new leadership team would be an ambitious task, Student Life worked to take in a diverse group of girls from the various dorms on campus, with a wide range of interests and involvement. Carolyn Davidge, previously a counselor in Linden Dorm, will be the incoming counselor for Harbor Dorm, and could speak to the unique challenges that this new unit will face in their first year on campus. For example, the returning students who will be moving into Harbor Dorm, “will need to be open and flexible, as they all have had differing experiences in their previous dorms,” Davidge explained.

The Right Stuff

Without a doubt, the young women of CGA are more than ready to tackle this exciting new challenge, as Davidge goes on to list the many initiatives the leaders of the new dorm have planned together. “During the spring semester, we began to meet as a dorm and started working with one another to put plans in place to create a welcoming and successful atmosphere. Our group of leaders is very collaborative and receptive to one another’s ideas.” Many of the returning girls will be juniors, who are new to being leaders in the CGA leadership structure, which contributes to the overall willingness to learn from each other while envisioning their new roles.

This entire process, from naming the new dorm, to building its new leadership structure, reflects the high value placed by CGA on student involvement. “Having this student input is very in line with our philosophy of a student-run leadership system,” said Anne Kelley ’94, Assistant Dean of Girls.

Given the camaraderie already established among its rising leaders, and the support and experience of Liney Davidge as their Counselor, as Harbor enters its first year at Culver with a dorm theme of “New Kids on the Block,” it is safe to say that they’ve got ‘the right stuff’ to be a remarkable new unit on campus.

Photo: Dean of Girls Lynn Rasch ’76 (left) and counselor Carolyn (Liney) Davidge stand outside the Hegeler Wing, which will house the new Harbor Dorm.

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Posted in Culver Academies Student Life
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