UArizona’s New Student Success District

Novel Concept Can Serve as National Model 

By Tom Leyde

University of Arizona students have a greater chance of achieving their academic and personal goals with the opening of the new Student Success District.

The university held a grand opening for the new district in April outside the historic and now revamped Bear Down Gym, which will serve as the heart of the district as the Bear Down Building.

The new district consists of a nine-acre span of four buildings, which will host library services, learning support, tutoring, advising, mentoring, career services and health programs. 

“It’s one-stop shopping for all students’ needs on campus…,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “It’s a big part of our students’ plan, more than half of all our initiatives of strategic plans, and focused on students’ success. And this … has been envisioned and been in progress for over seven years,” he said.

“I’m incredibly proud of all the work that’s gone into this. And … it’s not hyperbole. This is really the model for student success districts across any university in the country,” Robbins said. “So we’re very proud and hope that others will come and learn from it.”

The Student Success District was conceived in 2015 and the design process included input from students, faculty, staff and architects.  Some of the feedback included more daylight, more workspace, more places to plug in and more access to buildings. Sundt Construction, in partnership with UArizona Planning, Design and Construction, led the work on the district.

It now connects the Main Library, the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library, the Bear Down Building and the Bartlett Academic Success Center. Both libraries and the Bear Down Building underwent extensive renovations. There are now three floors of study spaces, a basketball court, cabanas, a community clubhouse and an 1,800-square-foot fitness center.

The Bartlett Success Center, completed in 2020, is a new building named in recognition of Patricia and Bruce Bartlett, who made a $10 million gift to help launch the district. It has four floors and features the Strategic Alternative Learning Technics Center “Think Tank” and more.

Features in the Main Library include: the Rhonda G. Tubbs Tech Toolshed, where students can check out 3D printers, computers and podcast equipment; learning studios, a Scholars’ Corner, 24/7 Lounge, technical support, the Terry Seligman VR Studio, the Zone and CATalyst Studios.

Also available are IT help and support, research and learning support, study rooms, a visualization wall and workshops.

The Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Building is home to the university’s first collaborative learning classroom. It seats 270 people. It also features a family study room for students with children.

University Libraries Dean Shan Sutton pointed out during the grand opening that the university had no template for the Student Success Center and created the plan from scratch. A Grateful Dead scholar, Sutton said, “What a long strange trip it’s been. We really are onto something here and we can’t screw it up.”

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