Happy 40th, Collins!

Here’s some guest banter about a milestone anniversary at IU Bloomington — courtesy of my newsroom colleague and Collins Living-Learning Center alumnus George Vlahakis:

This is a big weekend at IU Bloomington’s oldest and most intimate residence hall, Collins Living Learning Center (originally known as the Men’s Residence Center). Alumni residents are returning from all over the country for its 40th anniversary.

The original Smith Hall at Collins was built in 1924 as the Men’s Dormitory, but the Living-Learning Center was established at 10th and Woodlawn streets in 1972.

During the school year, the nearly 500 Collins residents will be glad to tell you that it is a place that empowers people by supplementing regular university work with its own accredited courses, arts events, social service activities and enrichment programs.

It’s also the only IU residence hall with gnomes. Three stained glass windows in the lobby of Edmondson Hall depict a gnome at different activities. No one knows why they’re there, but the mythical creatures turn up on Collins’ t-shirts, parade floats and even its slogan (“We put the ‘know’ in gnome”).

In 1980, it was named for the late Ralph L. Collins, an IU English and theater professor who served as headmaster of the Men’s Residence Center in the early 1940s.

Everyone who lives at Collins is required to take a one-credit hour course, Q199, which helps them get integrated into Collins and the university and explores its core principles. Fellow students help to teach the course.

What older alumni still remember as the “MRC-LLC” was the first living-learning center on campus. Today, there are eight others, which focus on themes such as global living, fitness, journalism and business.

Those unable to make it to this weekend’s reunion can reminisce by going to alumna Kristen Murphy’s Collins site or to a blog of the same name.

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