The University of Kentucky has formally dedicated Lewis Hall, a living-learning community and residence hall housing the new Lewis Honors College.
The facility, which opened this fall on the Lexington campus, is a five-story, 346-bed, LEED-silver-certified student housing facility.
The project is named for alumnus Thomas W. Lewis and his wife Jan, who gave $23 million to create the honors program. The donation is the largest single gift in the university's history.
The gift from the T.W. Lewis Foundation is funding more than 20,000 square feet of space dedicated to the Lewis Honors College. The space includes classrooms, a café, office space for faculty and advisers, and student support spaces, including a Center for Personal Development.
The Lewis Honors College will not offer baccalaureate degrees of its own; rather, its curriculum and requirements will emphasize interdisciplinary approaches, methodologies and learning outcomes. Honors College students will all declare majors in other undergraduate colleges, but will graduate with the Honors designation on their diplomas and transcripts.
The university has had an honors program since 1958. In the last five years, as part of an effort to enhance the undergraduate educational experience and improve retention and graduation rates, enrollment in the program nearly tripled, from 750 students to 2,100.
Transitioning the program to an Honors College is helping attract top-quality students and improve access for underrepresented students and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to educational environments otherwise reserved for students at expensive, private institutions.