|Aquinas College dedicated and blessed Siena Hall, its new women’s residence hall, on Monday, Nov. 7. It is the first on-campus residence hall in the school’s 55-year history. Aquinas president Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith, O.P., welcomes the crowd to the dedication ceremony. Photos by Andy Telli|
Aquinas College students, parents, board members, faculty, staff, construction and design team members and supporters crowded into the lobby of the college’s new Siena Hall for the blessing and dedication of the new residence hall for women on Monday, Nov. 7.
“Ladies of Siena you are indeed blessed,” said Mother Ann Marie Karlovic, O.P., the prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation and chair of the Aquinas College Board of Directors.
“I pray that every encounter we have in this place will bring us closer to the Lord,” she added.
Bishop David Choby blessed and dedicated the new building, which is the first on-campus residential hall for Aquinas College in its 55-year history.
The bishop thanked the Dominican sisters, who own and operate the college, and the school’s leadership “for your investment in the life of the Church in the Diocese of Nashville.” He called Siena Hall, and all it means for the college’s future, “a great asset” for the diocese.
The students’ presence at Aquinas is a reflection of their effort to learn and grow in their faith, Bishop Choby said. He noted that the Aquinas students not only learn new skills and abilities through the college’s academic program, but they do so in a context of faith.
|Marissa Quinn, right, director of residential life at Aquinas, shows her apartment in Siena Hall to visitors tourning the facility. The new Siena Hall is 44,000 square feet and has room for 101 beds. The residential facility will be for female students while male students will remain at Seton Lodge, next to Saint Thomas West Hospital, a neighbor to Aquinas College.|
In dedicating Siena Hall, the bishop prayed: “Lord, be close to your servants who live in this residence hall and ask for your blessing. Be their shelter when they are here, their companion when they are away, and their welcome guest when they return. And at last receive them into the dwelling place you have prepared for them in your Father’s house, where you live for ever and ever.”
The new Siena Hall is 44,000 square feet and has room for 101 beds. The residential facility will be for female students while male students will remain at Seton Lodge, next to Saint Thomas West Hospital, a neighbor to Aquinas College.
Fifty-five women students moved into Siena Hall on Sept. 30.
Each of the dorm rooms in the three-story building are larger than a typical college dorm room and there is enough space to house three students to a room if that ever becomes necessary.
Each floor has a study room, a prayer room, a kitchenette and a common area. There also is a gathering space in the lobby and an outdoor deck above the lobby that can be used as a gathering space or for events.
The emphasis on common areas in the design “is an intended antidote for isolation,” Sister Mary Sarah, Aquinas’ president, said at the opening of Siena Hall in September. The goal is to “build a community of growing in faith, of growing in friendship, of growing up together,” she said.
Dan Price, vice present of B.L. Harbert International, the project’s construction managers, told the crowd gathered for the dedication and blessing that working at Aquinas “has been a great experience for us.”
“The camaraderie that was built on this jobsite was incredible,” he said, noting that the appreciation shown by the students during construction provided motivation for the workers onsite.
He also praised Brother Gerard Thayer, O.P., who served as the project manager for Aquinas College. “Brother Gerard was wonderful to work with,” Price said. Brother Gerard’s presence “shoulder to shoulder with the guys, ministering to the guys, was very special.”
Sister Mary Sarah also praised the work of Mike Hathaway of 906 Studios in Franklin, the architect for the project. His design for Siena Hall captured all that the college dreamt for the project, she said.
She and other Aquinas leaders are hopeful the new residence hall will help the school to grow into the future, attracting students from throughout the country. This year, new student enrollment has increased by 65 percent. The school’s enrollment stands at just under 400 students from 25 states.