Peer-to-peer tutoring. Teaching development workshops. Cross-collaborative spaces for learning opportunities. These are just a few of the services and resources the Learning Commons wing of the City Heights Residence Hall has to offer.
Built to promote student and faculty development, this learning center is the first of its kind at CU Denver. “It’s a one-stop-shop for a variety of different academic enrichment opportunities and teaching resources,” said Lory-Ann Varela, director of the Learning Resources Center. “Whether you’re a student seeking supplemental learning support or an adjunct professor looking for a quiet place to prepare for your next class, the Learning Commons has something for you.”
Different floors of the new building, which opened its doors in August 2021, cater to different needs. The first floor, known as the Learning Hub, includes the Learning Resources Center, Math and Statistics Support, and Writing Center. The second floor is home to programs such as Student Transitions & Family Engagement, First-Year Experiences, Learning Assistants, Student Events & Activities, and Student Success. Faculty resources, including the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning, Center for Faculty Development & Advancement, Faculty Assembly,ThinqStudio, and UCDALI (University of Colorado Denver Association of Lecturers and Instructors), can be found on the third floor, otherwise known as the Faculty Success floor.
Complete with an outdoor patio and open-air courtyard, the Learning Commons and adjoining City Heights Residence Hall are the definition of multipurpose versatility.
First-year Students Find Their Home Away from Home
Learning isn’t the only thing happening on the 1200 block of Larimer Street—it’s also where many first-year undergraduate students call home. City Heights is the university’s newest state-of-the-art dorm and dining hall in the heart of campus. An abundance of communal areas and gathering spaces allow students to build connections with each other and with other members of the CU Denver community.
Faculty Floor Promotes Community and Collaboration
The Learning Commons also serves as the first place on campus dedicated solely to faculty. “Most other universities do not have a home for all faculty, including part-time employees,” said Lindsey Hamilton, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning. “We hope the space becomes a de facto faculty lounge where all educators, whether that’s a tenured professor or graduate student who is teaching for the first time, can drop by, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy chatting with colleagues.”
The Faculty Success floor will help the university attract and retain exceptional faculty and staff who reflect the rich diversity of the community, helping CU Denver accomplish its 2030 Strategic Plan goal of becoming a people-centered best place to work.
Access to Housing, Learning Services, and Academic Support
Each of the resources offered at the Learning Commons, from peer mentoring and tutoring to student success services, is available free of charge to all enrolled students. And for first-year students looking for an affordable housing option, City Heights Residence Hall is a cost-effective alternative to off-campus living. This aligns with goal one of CU Denver’s 2030 Strategic Plan, which is to be a pioneer in equitable, inclusive learning by making education work for all.
Even when remote learning is in effect, the Learning Commons complex remains accessible through tools like the Learning Resource Center’s Virtual Front Desk and various virtual workshops. If there’s a need or gap in programming, students are encouraged to make suggestions for services or opportunities they’d like to participate in. With input from the university community, the Learning Commons will continue to grow as a meaningful learning hub and communal gathering space for all.