Students in the Honors Program now have their own lounging and meeting space inside Angell Hall, reserved for them through a donation to the University from two University Honors Program alumni.
In her first visit to the new Haven Hall, University President Mary Sue Coleman, along with benefactors Rick and Judy Perlman, cut the ribbon to the Perlman Honors Commons last night. Before cutting the ribbon, Coleman praised the students in the Honors Program for their diverse skills and talents.
Several students spoke about how participating in the program changed their undergraduate experience.
“The Honors Program here is about the people. The people here who are in honors are really interested in education, and I mean real education,” LSA junior Jessi Grieser said.
The room – which overlooks the Diag and is attached to three 22-person seminar rooms, a smaller conference room and four spaces for faculty office hours – was a $500,000 project that started in the summer of 2001, said Bob Johnston, director of facilities for the LSA.
It features a bar space for coffee and food, lounging space, wooden flooring and wall murals featuring some of the University’s most-well known alumni and historical moments.
A photograph of playwright and University alum Arthur Miller decorates one wall, along with the Robert Frost poem “Fire and Ice.” Across the room, former President John F. Kennedy is shown standing on the Michigan Union steps during his Oct. 14, 1960 speech proposing the Peace Corps.
LSA interim Dean Terrence McDonald spoke about the importance of having spaces available to students to come together and meet in an educational environment outside of the classroom. “This is one of the nicest spaces that we have built for students in the 20 years since I have been here,” McDonald said.
He said the Honors Program had not previously set a space aside for its students that reflected the prestige of the program.
“(The best donations) are the ones that matches the passion of the donor with the need of the University, and I think that is what we have here,” he said, adding that the old space designated for honors students “was a space of tremendous creativity, but it really didn’t send the kind of message we wanted to send to people about the Honors Program.”