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‘Dream for many years’ becomes reality at Calumet College

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HAMMOND — Some call it a dream come true. Others consider the first residence hall at Calumet College of St. Joseph a miracle.

Speaking at a recent dedication ceremony, Amy McCormack, president of the private, Catholic university, called the yet-unnamed dormitory a “dream for many years to become a reality.”

McCormack said the school has been considering a residence hall for the past 15 years. The hall opens as CCSJ is expanding its athletic program to include football.

Juan Andrade Jr., the 2022 honorary degree recipient, gave the commencement address to the graduating class.

With an eye on arts, athletics and other activities, McCormack said, “this is truly a transformational time for CCSJ,” projecting the new dorm as a “living, learning and serving complex.”

The three-story, coed residence hall features 63 beds. All rooms are doubles, with space for residence assistants. The first floor features an atrium, the second floor a kitchen area and the third floor a study lounge.

The $5 million building project is the second in the 71-year history of CCSJ, following the opening in 2007 of the $3.2 million Rittenmeyer Athletic Center.

Considering that the dorm project was completed in 10 months during the pandemic, Jim Schmidt, president of the Columbus, Ohio, development firm University Housing Solutions, said, “it’s nothing short of a miracle the project was done.”

Hasse Construction of Calumet City, Illinois, was general contractor on the project.

Hammond Common Councilman Mark Kalwinski, D-1st, who represents that section of the city, graduated from CCSJ. He recalled attending classes in empty East Chicago storefronts before moving into the six-story building Amoco donated in 1971.

“We’re growing and getting stronger every day,” Kalwinski said.

This dormitory project reflects a trend nationally in commuter colleges going residential to boost enrollment and enhance the overall campus image.

Locally, then-Purdue University Calumet opened its two residence halls in 2006 and 2008. Purdue Northwest’s University Village features Peregrine and Griffin halls.

Calumet College has an enrollment of 700, with about 300 student-athletes involved in 17 Crimson Wave sports. Football, the newest sport, kicks off the Midwest Sprint Football League on Sept. 17 against Saint Mary-of-the-Woods at Whiting High School.

Vicki Znavor, a 1998 CCSJ graduate and current board member, met her husband, Tom, at school 40 years ago.

“CCSJ has a way of making dreams come true,” she said. “Some dreams take longer to become true than others. We look forward to sharing more dreams.”

Among the growing CCSJ academic programs is Kinesiology, taught by Tracy Stone. The professor, who has 55 students, is a former residence assistant. She said having a dorm “solidifies the campus experience and changes a student’s perspective. They’re less distracted and take college more serious.”

McCormack said future plans call for a recreational center on grounds south of the dorm and, depending on need and funding, additional residences.

Jackie Cruz, who earned two degrees from CCSJ, said the new dorm reflects “a lot of growth and more of a sense of community. It’s a great step forward.”

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