Residence hall fosters faith, friendship

student in dorm

Cardinal Newman houses 96 students with a variety of majors.  Jacob Currier (above), a current
history graduate student and Resident Assistant for the hall, enjoys the open space and large
windows overlooking campus.  Courtesy of Amanda Robbins

University Housing and alumni recently honored Cardinal Newman Hall by recalling its history as a home away from home for students over the past five decades. 

Cardinal Newman was built by the Catholic Archdiocese in 1964 and purchased by the university in 1981. Over the 50 years the building has been in use at Southeastern, a vast number of students have moved into its halls for the duration of the school year. 

Rita Bertolino graduated with her Bachelor’s from Southeastern in 1978. During her junior and senior years, Bertolino was a resident of Cardinal Newman Hall after going through an interview process with the “Dorm Mother,” who was the equivalent of a Resident Assistant many years ago. Residential selection for Cardinal Newman was based on if they would create a supportive learning and living environment. 

“It began by proceeding through the application and interview process with Sister Diane DeMarco, R.S.M. [Religious Sisters of Mercy], who served as ‘Dorm Mother’ or Director of Residence for the building,” said Bertolino. “It was very important to her to have students that were serious about their studies, had the will and desire to live a good life and to contribute to the goodness of others and mankind.” 

Cardinal Newman functioned as an honors residence hall until 2005 when the contemporary residence halls opened. When the building closed as a residence hall, it was re-purposed as office space for faculty and staff members until Fall 2012. University Housing considered reopening Cardinal Newman Hall when renovations to Zachary Taylor Hall were planned for Spring 2013. 

“When we discussed reopening Cardinal Newman Hall as a residence hall, it made sense to focus our efforts on creating a themed living/learning hall,” said Amanda Robbins, assistant director of residential life in University Housing. “Because of the location of Cardinal Newman, we were very interested in working with Dr. McCarthey and the faculty members in the College of Science and Technology. They had previously expressed interest in a STEM hall and all of the pieces just began to fall into place to move forward with that vision.”

After renovations were completed to bring everything up to code, University Housing reopened Cardinal Newman as a residence hall. Although Cardinal Newman Hall is for STEM majors, students from other majors request to live there for different reasons.

“I wanted to live there because I am an active member of the Catholic Student Association and wanted to be near St. Albert more often,” said Derrick Faucheux, a senior majoring in sports management who lived in Cardinal Newman Hall in Spring 2014. 

Similar to Faucheux, Bertolino said she and other residents of Cardinal Newman were active at the St. Albert Chapel and Catholic Student Center a few decades ago. Part of Bertolino’s job in the Cardinal Newman lobby required helping to prepare a student meal once a week at St. Albert, which is located next door. 

Bertolino said a group of past residents reunites every year for Homecoming, as well as gets together to attend baseball games in the spring. Many Cardinal Newman alumni also contributed to the purchase of bricks through the Southeastern Development Foundation that are placed in Friendship Circle. 

“Living there was one of my many great experiences as a student at Southeastern,” said Bertolino. “Many of my best friends today are people I met at Cardinal Newman Hall. We have maintained a deep devoted friendship that is as solid as any oak tree on Southeastern’s campus.” 

Cardinal Newman Hall added 96 beds for students wanting to live in residential communities. University Housing continues to have a waiting list each fall semester, and the current total occupancy of University Housing is 2,394 students. For additional information on Cardinal Newman Hall, contact University Housing.