Island University Unveils New Learning Commons to Foster Student Success and Support

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Creating new pathways for academic success and student support, the Mary and Jeff Bell Library at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, in collaboration with the Office of Student Success, has established a new, academically inclusive space. The Learning Commons, located on the first floor of the Bell Library, will attribute to the enhancement of student success by acting as a one-stop-shop for studying, tutoring, and research.

“A welcoming and aesthetically pleasing learning environment is critical for students,” Dr. Cate Rudowsky, TAMU-CC Dean University of Libraries, said. “The library has an incredibly high volume of traffic. Students come here to study, receive support, use technology, and participate in group work. This new Learning Commons, designed with students in mind, provides the convenience of a single location for those projects and promotes positive academic behaviors.”

Co-collaborator on the project Dr. Jerel Benton, TAMU-CC Special Assistant to the Provost, says the idea for the space was sparked by a shared goal of inspiring, motivating, and encouraging Islander students, from undergraduates to doctoral candidates, to succeed.

“The Learning Commons allows students to receive support and services in a common environment,” Benton said. “While the services we a providing here are not new, providing them to students in the convenience of a single location is. This design works to remove the obstacle of students potentially missing appointments for services they direly need because they are spread out across campus.” 

The Learning Commons, which was paid for with Cares Act Funding, is approximately 6,500 square feet and offers an array of academic support services including tutoring, library research assistance, and writing assistance. The Learning Commons is also equipped with collaboration rooms and booths that invite groups of up to eight people to collaborate within niche spaces that include wall monitors for shared screens. Students are invited to “bring their own devices” to the space. Rudowsky and Benton say they hope the multi-resource space will also benefit faculty and staff looking for an inspiring environment outside of the classroom or office.

University Leaders Celebrate Grand Opening of Learning Commons

Dr. Kelly M. Miller, CEO and President of TAMU-CC (left); Dr. Jerel Benton, Special Assistant to the Provost; Dr. Clarenda Phillips, TAMU-CC Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs; and Dr. Catherine Rudowsky, Dean University of Libraries; are all smiles during the grand opening of the Bell Library's Learning Commons.

On March 1, students, faculty, staff, and university administrators gathered in the Learning Commons to celebrate the new space with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“Before the Learning Commons, my peers and I would sometimes have to travel off campus to a nearby café to work on our projects and discuss our ideas. It was not such an ideal place to work,” said Gabriela Bidwell ’17 ’23, who is working on a Master of Arts in Communication. “Now I can see us utilizing the new work spaces and white boards to work in a place we feel comfortable in and that is part of our Islander community.”