Skyline ceremony officially opens residence hall

Skyline ceremony officially opens residence hall

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September 28, 2018

Brandeis celebrated the opening of its newest residence hall, Skyline, at Skyline Commons on Sept. 27, 2018. The ceremony included a ribbon cutting and dedication of the building and was attended by President Ron Liebowitz and Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy.

The ceremony began with two fire alarms that were handled by Public Safety. Also in attendance of the opening ceremony were Executive Vice President of Communications and External Relations Ira Jackson and various members of the Board of Trustees. Student Union President Hannah Brown ’19, was there representing the undergraduate student body.

Jackson began the ceremony by explaining the meaning behind “Skyline.” “Skyline represents, symbolically, Brandeis being a university on a hill,” Jackson said. “A beacon, way beyond our 135 acres, to the world beyond.” He added that he hopes the name is only temporary—“perhaps there is a donor, even in our midst today, that will be inspired to change the name.”

President Ron Liebowitz added to Jackson’s analogy of Skyline being a beacon, saying that the building “represents a bridge to the kind of rich undergraduate life, combining academics with social life and co-curricular activities.”

Leibowitz also made sure to thank the Usen family for their contributions to Brandeis throughout the years, especially fitting as Skyline is built on land formerly part of Usen Castle. “As we celebrate renewal and new experiences reflected in this Skyline project,” he said, “I want to remind you of our roots, and those who helped us long ago.” Richard and Judy Usen attended the event as representatives of the Usen family.

Brown concluded the opening dedication portion of the event with a speech on behalf of undergraduates, saying that “this new and high-caliber residence hall has been constructed with the importance of student life and the Brandeis experience in mind,” specifically referencing how the residence hall “was constructed with the intent to build community.”

Brown also thanked the university for “this gift of the new residence hall and improving the quality of undergraduate life” and everyone involved in making Skyline possible.

Some of the students in attendance were members of Brandeis Climate Justice (BCJ). Maya Kattler-Gold ’21, a Skyline resident, was one of the BCJ representatives. According to Kattler-Gold, she and three others went around the residence hall the night prior and passed around flyers to Skyline residents which simply read “Divest,” in reference to the fact that Brandeis has not yet divested from fossil fuels.

Kattler-Gold explained BCJ’s goal behind the flyer distribution, saying that “we wanted the Board of Trustees to see [the flyers.] We gave them to students, so that they would put them on their own doors. We wanted to Board to see individual student support.” The board “hasn’t done a vote,” she said, and is “holding back divestment.” She hopes that in putting up the flyers, BCJ can make a point to the board that they are still around and still want divestment.

Skyline, as described in the summer issue of the Brandeis magazine, is both “accessible and green.” The residence hall has an elevator with access to all four residential floors. It also has a Shabbat-observant system and is on a clock that lets the system know when sunset is on Friday night.

Skyline also uses all LED lighting and a full geothermal system, which is used to regulate building temperatures and provide hot water. The geothermal system consumes no fossil fuels on-site. Brandeis is one of the two universities with residence halls that use a geothermal system, the other being Bridgewater State University.

Skyline also pays tribute to the former Usen Castle—there are pictures and plaques on the walls made out of the Castle’s former pieces in Skyline Commons and three benches made out of reclaimed wood from the Castle added in and around the courtyard area.

Dr. Timothy Touchette, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, describes the opening as “a very exciting day for us.” As an administrator who oversees the Department of Community Living, Touchette was “very excited, obviously, to have a new residence hall.” He stated that “our students love living here” and anticipates on using Skyline as the standard moving forward.

Skyline is home to 164 residents, and all but 16 are sophomores. At 54,000 gross square feet, it has 52 single bedrooms, 56 double bedrooms and a number of common rooms and study lounges spread out throughout the building. The ground floor of Skyline South also houses Skyline Commons, which includes a 100-seat space, a kitchen and a multi-purpose room.

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