April 3, 2005

Rosenwald houses new space for admissions

The Office of College Admissions has moved from its old home in Harper 186, to Julius Rosenwald Hall, where prospective students now gather on the spacious first floor of the former Graduate School of Business.

The idea to move the Office of College Admissions surfaced when the Graduate School of Business relocated to 58th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, making available the space in Julius Rosenwald Hall. Some staff members felt cramped in the one room of Harper Memorial Library.

"We didn't have proper public space for the reception of visitors, whose numbers go up every year (more than 200 each of the past two days), and didn't have space for our increasingly ambitious technical efforts, didn't have space for storage of publications, didn't have adequate space for mailings and other production efforts, and didn't have space for interview rooms, etc.," said Ted O'Neill, dean of Undergraduate Admissions.

A chief draw of the new Office of College Admissions is its proximity to the hub of student life on the main quad of campus. "At Chicago it seems particularly important for admissions to be located where people study and teach," O'Neill said. "I have been in too many admissions offices in old mansions, or cute New England houses, which place admissions far from the central business of the college or university."

The new office also provides a more comfortable area for prospective students to learn about the University. "The new office is more spacious, has better facilities, and is more aesthetically pleasing," said Tim Richards, a second-year in the College and tour guide. "Before we had to bring students up to the second floor of Harper for the information sessions and the admissions counselors had cramped offices. Now it seems that there's more devotion and it shows that the college cares. It's not just a box in the corner."

The move does not signify a change in admissions policy. Despite the fact that there is now more space for interviews, there will not be an increased emphasis on interviewing in the admissions process. "We already interview as many applicants as ask for interviews on campus. Now there is space to conduct the interviews in a more comfortable setting," O'Neill said. The Office of College Admissions will host many of the events for prospective students, but April overnights and the Columbus Day program will still be held in Ida Noyes, according to O'Neill.

Though admissions policy will remain the same, the move of the admissions office may bring an unintended change to campus folklore. The popular legend of the gargoyles on Hull Gate that represent the progression of a student through the college may no longer be included as often in tours. "The gargoyles all gain confidence and stature as they climb the arch. At the top stands the mighty fourth-year who sticks its tongue out at the admissions office," said Lakshmi Shenoy, a fourth-year in the College and the chair of the Prospective Students Advisory Committee. "The very bottom two gargoyles are said to be admissions and financial aid, controlling who climbs the archway. With admissions moving, it probably won't be included in many guides' tours anymore."

When asked if he thought the new space would affect admissions, O'Neill said, "Yes, in some intangible, impossible-to-measure way I think the new quarters will help us make an even better impression which will somehow lead to good results in admissions."

Some prospective students touring the University seemed to agree. "It reflects better on the school when it's a place like this," said Rob Simon, a high-school junior from Naperville, Illinois.

Scott Lotz, a high-school junior from Westmont, Illinois, who had visited Northwestern earlier and was touring the University campus, said that Chicago's admissions space was "a lot more open and casual, and there is more seating." The admissions office matters, he said, "Because it represents what the rest of the University would seem like." Some current students who did not know about the Office of College Admissions' new location were apathetic about the move. "It was a good idea, but it doesn't really affect me at all. It will help the school more than me," said Matthew Gunkel, a first-year in the College.