Most students have probably noticed the newest building addition to campus; heck, anyone who drives past the corner of Kinkead and Waldron notices the shiny, four-story buildings. This resident community, the Lion’s Den, completes one more step for the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith’s growth into a major university in Arkansas.
UA Fort Smith administration hoped to name the 120,000-square-foot complex something focused on the university’s Numa mascot rather than to simply call the buildings North and South Residence Halls. During an on-campus poll, students voted for their favorite name from a slate of four candidates—and the Lion’s Den was the popular choice.
Resident Director Beth Eppinger believes it is important for students to understand that the Lion’s Den is not a dormitory, but a resident community. A resident community complements the academic community by focusing on personal growth of the student which, in turn, helps with student retention and increased graduate numbers.
A dormitory, by her definition, “is where students primarily sleep—the idea of a cot and a nightstand.” However, a resident community “is where students do much more than sleep,” she says. “They live here to learn to co-exist with other students by sharing common living areas and interacting with each other through the programming offered by the housing staff.”
With a current occupancy of 340, The Lion’s Den has space for 460 residents. Each suite consists of two or three bedrooms, with a shared bathroom, for four or five occupants. Floors are divided into wing communities which are overseen by Resident Assistants (RAs), upperclassmen who are vetted for the positions by the housing staff.
Additionally, a new 170-seat dining hall is available not only to residents, but to the entire campus. Diners pay one price at the door for an all-you-can-eat meal. The dining hall features exhibition cooking, a brick pizza oven, full salad and deli bar, burgers, fries, and traditional home-cooked meals.
The UA Fort Smith administration and the housing staff of the Lion’s Den are seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification of the new resident community. LEED certification, a nationally recognized benchmarking system for green design, was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Four levels of LEED certification exist: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
If the Lion’s Den attains Silver certification, it will be one of the few residence halls in the nation to achieve this status. The idea behind LEED certification is to support the increasing need for universities to be environmentally conscious. Building the new resident community with an environmentally conscious design shows that UA Fort Smith is committed to renewable energy efforts.