Starting in Fall 2018, Building 9 of USC Village, Ilium Residential College, will house 350 sophomore honors students and become the first sophomore honors college at USC.
The idea of a sophomore honors college began when the Office for Residential Education received encouraging feedback from scholarship recipients about the honors college experience, but recognized that there wasn’t enough room to host all the scholarship students, according to Director of Residential Education Emily Sandoval.
“The most unique part about living in McCarthy [Honors College] is that I am constantly meeting new people with extremely diverse interests and backgrounds,” said Justin Kawaguchi, McCarthy Residential Student Government President. “You are able to absorb so much knowledge by interacting with fellow residents … It’s a real privilege to make friends who share a passion for knowledge and appreciation of hard work.”
To resolve the limited honors housing spaces for scholarship students, McCarthy Honors College was built in 2017 to house over 500 students. According to Sandoval, the living and learning environment current freshman honors students are experiencing at McCarthy is expected to carry over to their next year in Ilium.
“We realized that not all 520 of [freshman honors students] are going to want to remain living together … but a good number of [them] can continue that experience, continue the building of the community and friendship [they] have started this year, be able to interact with a new faculty-in-residence and be able to act as mentors to the McCarthy residents,” Sandoval said.
Ilium students will still participate in residential college events and collaborate with the Thematic Option program their freshman year. Sandoval also stated that the college will provide support to students who, despite having learned how to navigate academics at USC, are now facing the pressure of exploring professional pursuits. USC Village activities including Tuesday Tea with guest speakers and First Friday in the piazza will remain implemented for the following school year. In addition, there are plans for a sophomore success series that will include life and careers skill guidance for all sophomores at USC Village.
The two dorms are mirrored off each other to ensure a smooth transition. The two buildings, Buildings 7 and 9, respectively, face each other.
“Symbolically, McCarthy is connected to Ilium through the bridge, so we thought that looked very unique,” Sandoval said. “It would be a unique architectural feature to build upon in terms of bridging the experience.”
Those living in Ilium will have an apartment-style set-up with kitchens and numerous study lounges throughout the building. Like McCarthy, the lounges were built to reflect both academic and social needs. Some have cubicles and single-person desks while others have couches and TVs.
Ilium’s current Faculty-in-Residence is Laura Baker, a professor of psychology in Dornsife.
“[Baker] has a big focus on wellness; she teaches yoga,” Sandoval said. “She loves those informal interactions with students and loves taking students to downtown L.A. … I think our sophomore honors students next year could benefit from [the focus on wellness] … I think they’ll learn a lot from her.”
The Office for Residential Education began developing new residential themes last year with the RAs and Residential Student Government. Eventually the concepts were sent to the Provost Cabinet that voted on the idea of a sophomore honors college. But since the University housing renewal process occurred last year, the sophomores of Fall 2017 missed their chance.
Currently, Ilium is a temporary name for the college. While the development office sells a name to a donor, the Residential Office is planning a lot for Ilium this year. The work that the RCC and RAs of McCarthy have done this year will translate over into this new sophomore experience.