April o2, 2003
The Facilities Planning and Construction Committee
of the University of Texas System Board of Regents Tuesday unanimously
approved a request from The University of Texas at Arlington to name
its next student residence hall Kalpana Chawla Hall in memory of the
UTA alumna who died in the Feb. 1 Space Shuttle Columbia.
Dr. Chawla, who received her masters of
science degree in aerospace engineering from UTA in 1984, was Flight
Engineer and Mission Specialist 2 aboard the shuttle that was lost during
re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. She was responsible for maneuvering
the Columbia as part of several experiments in the shuttle's payload
bay. Selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
in December 1994, she was also the prime robotic arm operator on a 1997
space shuttle mission that focused on how the weightless environment
of space affects various physical processes. Born in India, she was
the first woman from that nation to go into space on a U.S. shuttle.
A scholarship in her name has been established at UTA.
The naming request will now go to the entire
U.T. System Board of Regents for final approval May 8. The Texas Higher
Education Coordinating Board is expected to vote on UTA's request for
the building in July. Once the University's request to build the hall
at 901 South Oak St. is fully approved, groundbreaking would be some
time in mid-summer.
The new hall will be a living/learning
residence, housing approximately 400 students in 16 learning communities,
clustered according to learning themes or major disciplines. Living/learning
communities are residence halls or segments of residence halls in which
spaces are dedicated to groups of students who not only live together
but who also attend classes and study together. In addition to the amenities
offered in Arlington Hall, the new hall will include features specific
to a living/learning community: seminar-style rooms for living/learning
classes and offices for faculty and advisors to counsel students.
The pilot program for UTA's living/learning
community was established in Arlington Hall by the UTA Honors College
and the Mav Scholars Program, fall, 2002. In 2004, these communities
will move to the new residence hall where they will be joined by an
additional 12 learning communities.
Seventy-five percent of the rooms in the
new hall will be three-bedroom suites; twenty-five percent will be two-person
rooms and there will be common spaces to encourage study and interaction
among students, social lounges, study lounges, computer labs and vending
areas. Each room will have high-speed Ethernet connections, metro phone
service, card access, and expanded cable TV. The hall will be more than
127,000 gross square feet and be completed no later than Aug. 1, 2004.