The New Cobb:
Your Hotplate and Your Ideas
Cobb was des
in part to accommo-
date the Connected
s the v
ouse an elevato
jessica Polka and some of her high school friends had an idea for a magazine that would apply the talents ofstudents ofpoetry, fiction and creative
nonfiction to what she calls "the aesthetic expression of
Now the sophomore biology major hopes old
Cobb Dorm will help her get it off the ground.
Cobb, built as a home for 400 men in 1952 and
converted to a women's dorm a decade later, will
emerge from a $14 million renovation ne}..1: fall as more
than just a place to hang a hat. The Johnston Center
for Undergraduate Excellence and the housing depart-
ment will roll out the Connected Learning Program,
an experiment aimed at transforming Cobb into a
place where ambitious students get things done.
Students such as Polka will undertake projects that
can receive up to $1,000 in funding to engage the cam-
pus community in their personal academic or service-
oriented passion. Modeled after the Burch Fellows pro-
gram run by the Johnston Center, which grants $6,000
to top students to pursue off-campus experiences of
their own design, the Connected Learning Program is
intended to bring the Burch experience onto canlpus
and enable students to cooperate with one another to
create lasting contributions to the University.
Students will be chosen for the program based on
the worthiness of their projects, which includes their
ability to involve multiple academic disciplines; make
liberal use oflectures, performance and other media;
and enhance the learning experience for the student
body at large. Students also can expect an emphasis on
international experiences and original research.
Initially, 75 of Cobb's residents, men and women, are
enrolled in the program; the plan is to grow it slowly.
More could be involved ifenough are interested and a
bigger program is manageable; the connected learning
program might inspire spinolli.
The Johnston Center's director,Jirn Leloudis, calls it
"entrepreneurial learning." Students will be expected to
develop self-sustaining programs. Among those chosen
were a project to aid Chapel Hill's homeless community, a
campus speaker series and a fundraising dance for AIDS.
Polka plans to involve students from Duke and Har-
vard in her magazine project, and she's counting on
getting some freshmen excited about working on it.
Thirty Cobb residents will work on 12 projects
selected for funding from among 40 proposals. Forty
freshmen will join the program when they arrive in
the fall. Returning students will be expected to mentor
incoming freshmen, who either can choose existing
projects to take part in or create their own projects
with other students.
They'll have to operate on budgets and use their
wits to expand their resources.
Cobb is considered the ideal place to house the
program - close to the libraries (and for exposure,
next door to the admissions office), and the large cen-
ter of a cluster of 14 residence halls. The renovation of
Cobb was designed in part to accommodate the Con-
nected Learning Program.
The dark mazelike basement is being transformed
into a wired academic hub with a multimedia center,
study lounges, conference rooms and satellite class-
rooms, equipped for professors to conduct seminars.
Recognizing Cobb won't be easy once construction
is complete. The entrance to the H-shaped four-floor
residence hall designed to face Country Club Road
will be flipped to what was the back. A 7,800-square-
foot pavilion is being added primarily to house an ele-
vator shaft. It also will create windowed lobbies to each
of the dorm's floors.
Centerfor Undergraduate Excellence and the housing department want to know
a dorm can contribute more to the intellectual atmosphere than just agood night's sleep.
students will kick
an entrepreneurial learning experiment
in this issue
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