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A Fresh Start for Women's Residential College

Hobart House gets interior renovation and new faculty master

After transferring to Northwestern University from the University of Illinois two years ago, School of Communication junior Nicole Ramberg was looking for a place to fit in as a transfer student. She was assigned to live in Hobart House, also known as the Women’s Residential College.

“Hobart wasn’t at the top of the list of places that I wanted to live, but I’m so glad I got placed here,” Ramberg said. “Part of the reason I transferred was that U of I is a huge school, and I felt very lost and adrift there. Hobart has really anchored me into a community.”

Ramberg found a fresh start at Hobart House. Now Hobart is getting a fresh start of its own with an extensive renovation completed this year and the recent appointment of new faculty master Michelle M. Wright, an associate professor in the department of African American studies.

Hobart is one of 11 communities in Northwestern’s residential colleges, designed to broaden the Northwestern learning experience, with each college organized around an area or multiple areas of interest including business, science, the arts and broader themes.

Hobart underwent an extensive renovation last summer to give the all-female residence a more updated space for community living and activities. The renovation included spruced- up common areas, study rooms and the TV lounge. Several kitchens were also were remodeled, which students now use extensively for personal cooking as well as house programming.

Faculty members apply for the position of master at Northwestern’s various residential colleges. Wright will take over for outgoing Hobart faculty master Jeanne Herrick, a senior lecturer in the writing program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, who served for the last five years. As master, Wright will spend a lot of time and energy getting to know residents, participating in and planning programs related to the theme of the residential college, and bridging the gap between the academic and social sides of college life.

“Residents can expect to see faculty at all kinds of informal social occasions, at meal times and even for some quasi-formal lectures that we call firesides,” said Brad Zakarin, director of the Office of Academic Initiatives.

“Students get a more seamless undergraduate experience, so that when they walk out of the building that they live in and go to the building that they have class in, it’s not going to feel that they’re leaving one world and entering another,” he said. “They’re going to have one holistic Northwestern experience.”