October 2020

        University Residences Multicultural Connections Students with artwork at an arts and crafts night

Students show off their artwork at an arts and crafts night hosted by University Residences Multicultural Connections in Hillenbrand Hall. 

Residential Life Profile

Opportunities for Activity, Connection Continue to Evolve  

Helping students build a sense of community and belonging has always been a key component of the numerous programs, clubs, leadership development opportunities and student employment positions offered by University Residences. The ability to provide meaningful, in-person connection has always been at the core of these efforts. That ability has been challenged during the coronavirus pandemic, but University Residences staff and student leaders continue to adapt to meet the challenge and provide opportunities for residents to make meaningful connections.

Professional staff, resident assistants, hall clubs and learning community staff and instructors have developed and organized a mix of in-person, virtual and hybrid events to keep students connected.

As a result of these efforts, students have been able to gather outdoors to play game such as Spikeball and frisbee and meet in dining tents to eat together. They have also met for creative activities such as tie-dying clothing and creating friendship bracelets. Residents have also gathered to discuss presidential debates and to write positive messages on the doors of their fellow residents. Virtual events have included study sessions, video games and even a painting tutorial.

Organizations such as UR Global and University Residences Multicultural Connections have been active as well. The organizations have held events such as an arts and crafts night, de-stress events and weekly wellness walks.

Learning communities have also continued to provide organized social and professional development opportunities, ranging from an organized walk to Happy Hollow Park to career fairs. The Agricultural Technology and Innovation Learning Community even provided students an opportunity to use a combine simulator. Additional events have included movie nights (socially distanced) and attending an online lecture on racial justice. 

Below are some scenes from some of the in-person activities that have taken place so far this fall.

Students register to vote
Students register to vote as a Starship Robot, an autonomous vehicle used to deliver food, drives past.
Voter Registration.
Students register to vote outside Hillenbrand Hall.
Sidewalk Art
Windsor residents create sidewalk art.
Student at arts and crafts night.
A student works on a painting at an arts and crafts night.
Women in STEM Art creation
A student shows off her creation at the arts and crafts night hosted by University Residences Multicultural Connections.



Alumni Profile

Watts Reflects on University Residences, Women's Leadership Series Experiences

Purdue alumna Belinda Watts says she has fond memories of her time in Harrison Hall.

Belinda Watts

“I truly enjoyed living in Harrison Hall,” says Watts. “It was an opportunity to study and meet some life-long friends. It made it really easy to pursue what I wanted to pursue, focus on my studies and have a community around that enjoyed the things that I enjoyed.”

Participating in intramural sports was a big part of Watts’ on-campus experience. She was able to turn that love of sports into a leadership position with Harrison Hall’s Cavalier Club, where she served as the club’s sports director.

“We had a great time,” says Watts. “I met some athletes on different floors. When you were done studying, it was fun to have an hour or an hour and a half to go out, be active and relax through activity. It was a great way to meet people who enjoyed doing the same things I enjoyed.”

Watts earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1983 and completed a Master of Science in Animal Physiology in 1984. After spending more than 25 years in the medical profession as a physician, she currently spends time teaching first and second-year medical students how to do histories and physicals as part of a foundation of clinical practice course.

Watts has stayed connected to Purdue as an alumni participant in University Residences’ Women’s Leadership Series. The series brings women alumni, faculty, staff and students together to network, provide support and learn from one another. The annual series typically features three to five events spread throughout the school year. Each event features guest speakers who present on topics related to their area of expertise, share meaningful experiences and answer questions from participants.

Watts says she was glad to accept an invitation participate in the series.

“I think it’s important to be able to make connections as a student and then, as an alumni, to make connections with students to help them grow and evolve in their dreams with whatever their gifts and passions are,” says Watts.

“One of the students that I chatted with wants to go to medical school so we’ve had a couple of conversations,” continues Watts. “I’ve texted with her in the past and have caught up with her at the Women’s Leadership Series seminars to see how she’s doing and how her dreams are progressing.”

Persistence played a key role in Watts’ pursuit of her career as a physician. Rather than attending medical directly after completing undergraduate work, Watts spent a year earning her master’s and another performing research on campus. Watts says that each year, she had to decide where she felt she belonged and continue to work towards her dream – an ideal she says she would advise current students to pursue.

“I didn’t have an easy path getting to my career but it was a dream that I had and, despite obstacles, I still pursued the dream,” says Watts. “I think that if somebody has a bad grade or a bad experience, they can’t let that mar their life or their career. They have to be able to move on from that and continue to realize that doors or opportunities are going to open and they just have to stay connected and continue to look for those opportunities as they come along.”

Every year, participants in the Women’s Leadership Series read an assigned book to discuss throughout the series events. Watts says she has enjoyed the readings, particularly “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown, which tied with the theme “Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You.”

“I think the program has been very good as far as simple messages with a lifetime of investment,” says Watts. “They’re good books to read. That can be very encouraging when you’re trying to figure things out.”

Women’s Leadership Series was due to celebrate its 10 th Anniversary this year. Those plans are currently on hold due to the ongoing pandemic, but a celebration of the series and its impact is planned for a future date. More information will be announced in the coming months.



Homecoming Banner

Upcoming Events Profile

Homecoming, Halloween to be Celebrated Virtually

University Residences and Dining & Culinary will celebrate Homecoming virtually as part of Purdue University’s online celebration. Homecoming will be celebrated November 9-14 and will include an array of virtual programming to celebrate the stories and memories that embody the Boilermaker experience. 

The Homecoming celebration will include virtual versions of the booths that visitors would typically visit on the Purdue Mall. The University Residences and Dining & Culinary booth will include assorted videos and photos, including video clips of students and staff. The virtual booth will be open from 12-1 p.m. daily and can be accessed by visiting

University Residences and Dining & Culinary will also host a “chat room” where alumni can log on to discuss various topics, share memories, ask questions and more. The chat rooms are hosted by University Residences staff and friends and will take place from 1-2 p.m. daily. Visitors and topics are as follows:

  • Monday, November 9 – Residential Life with Christa Pazera, Director of Residential Life. Guests can ask Pazera about what Residential Life is like today, including student programming, development, leadership, issues that today's students face, being a resident assistant, what learning communities offer, multicultural support for students, dealing with COVID-19 on campus and more.
  • Tuesday, November 10 – Capital Projects with Chris Skiba, Director of Capital Projects. Skiba will answer questions about Griffin North and Meredith South, two new residence halls that opening in August 2020, as well as partnerships with private companies on new halls, future plans for more buildings and continued renovations to University Residences facilities. 
  • Wednesday, November 11 – Purdue Dining & Culinary with Cara Powell, Director of Dining & Culinary. Powell will answer questions about menus, dietary and culinary trends, changing student expectations for on-campus dining, student employment opportunities and managing COVID-19 over the past year. 
  • Thursday, November 12 – Executive-in-Residence with Drew Mattison, who has supported this unique program when he served as an Executive in Residence for a week. Mattison will answer questions on the impact of this program on students, staff and alumni, as well as current plans while guests are not allowed on campus and the future of the program beyond COVID-19. 
  • Friday, November 13 – Barb Frazee, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Life. Frazee can answer big-picture questions on housing and dining, including what the future looks like for Purdue's on-campus living and the value for students to live on campus in residence halls. 

Interested individuals should visit the Purdue Homecoming page for a full schedule of events.

University Residences will also be included on Purdue Student Life's History of Horror Tour. This tour, which traditionally highlights sites and stories on a spooky and historical tour of Purdue's campus, will be held virtually October 29-31. Interested individuals can register here. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will benefit Purdue's United Way campaign. 

Student Life History of Horror

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic | Inquiries Contact:

Subscribe to Get ReConnected newsletter.