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Elizabeth Waters, Cole halls to shift roles in 2006

August 15, 2005 By John Lucas

In order to better accommodate the preferences of residents, University Housing will shift its all-women’s residence from Elizabeth Waters Hall to Cole Hall beginning in 2006. At that time, Elizabeth Waters Hall will begin operation as a coed residence hall.

A steady decrease in demand for women-only housing is the reason behind the change, says University Housing Director Paul Evans.

“We make residence hall assignments according to our students’ preferences, and in recent years the number of students expressing a preference for all-women’s housing has decreased to less than 200,” Evans says. “The vast majority of incoming students want to live on campus in a coed residence hall.”

With 244 beds, the smaller size of Cole Hall can better accommodate the declining number of students seeking the residential experience of a women-only hall, he says. In comparison, Elizabeth Waters has 488 beds, leaving many residents who had not sought single-sex housing disappointed with their assignment.

“We believe that Cole Hall is the appropriate size for an all-women’s hall, and will satisfy limited demand in the future,” adds Evans.

Both residence halls have comparable numbers of amenities. Cole, which opened in 1958, has spacious common areas, recently remodeled bathrooms, new furniture and windows. It is located in the “neighborhood” of Lakeshore Dorms and Holt Commons, which serves food until 1 a.m.

The popular Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, currently located in Elizabeth Waters, will also move to Cole Hall in 2006.

The building is named for Dr. Llewellyn Cole, a Clintonville, Wis. native and UW–Madison graduate who headed the university’s Student Health Department in the 1930s.

Elizabeth Waters Hall opened in 1940, named for Ms. Elizabeth Waters of Fond du Lac, and a UW–Madison graduate (1885) with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Her career includes 40 years of service to Fond du Lac as a German teacher and school principal; 16 years on the UW Board of Regents; and additional public service as President of the Wisconsin Education Association and President of the Fond du Lac Council of Education.

For years, Elizabeth Waters Hall has provided summer housing for a variety of coed programs sponsored by the university, including new student orientation and pre-college programs. Those assignments are expected to continue.

Elizabeth Waters Hall is not the first all women’s residence hall at UW–Madison to change its designation from all-women to coed. Chadbourne Hall and Barnard Hall, both historically all women’s residence halls, became coed facilities in 1995 and 2001, respectively.

“We know and respect the rich history Liz Waters had as an all-women’s residence hall,” Evans says. “But our main goal is to accommodate the preferences of as many residents as possible. We expect both Liz Waters and Cole Halls to thrive under this new arrangement.”