Bowles Hall at UC Berkeley to become co-ed, privately run in 2016

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Kayla Baskevitch/Staff

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After finals end and the last Bowlesmen move out, Bowles Hall will become a co-ed, privately run student residence in 2016.

UC Berkeley will officially cease running Bowles Hall, according to campus real estate spokesperson Christine Shaff, and the building will be leased to the Bowles Hall Foundation. The foundation will continue to run Bowles Hall as a student residence and will also fund renovations, the first in the building’s 86-year history.

In the interim, the Bowles Hall Foundation will rent out The Berk on Northside, at the intersection of Arch Street and Hearst Avenue. Bowles Hall’s population will temporarily shrink for the 2015-16 academic year to meet its new accommodations, scaling down from about 185 residents to as few as 39.

The Bowles Hall Phoenix Program will help Bowles Hall revert back to its historic status as a residential college and modernize into a co-ed program, according to Les Laky, a member of the Bowles Hall Alumni Association.

The association has been working on renovating the hall for several years: the Bowles Hall Foundation is the recent offshoot of the association. The foundation is planning on selling at least $40 million worth of bonds to pay for the renovation, according to Daniel Melia, who will become the Bowles Hall housemaster once the building reopens.

Applications are currently available for students who wish to join the Phoenix Program, which will initiate Bowles Hall’s co-ed status.

Bowles Hall opened in 1929 as the first residential college in the U.S. and was mostly self-governed until the 1980s, Melia said. The hall follows the student-residence model from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, where students receive academic advising, organize events and eat and live together in the same house for the entirety of their undergraduate career.

Over time, Bowles Hall became a regular campus residence hall and lost its dining room, and so-called “Bowlesmen” became primarily freshmen. Now the eponymous “phoenix” of the transition program’s name harkens back to its communal history.

“This is a resurrection of something that already existed but was allowed to die out,” Melia said.

The Phoenix residents will have student committees, while the Bowles Hall Alumni Association will offer opportunities for networking between current Bowles residents and alumni.

“One of the deciding factors (for applying) was the connections that I would be able to receive from the Bowles Hall Foundation,” said Ben Zagorsky, a freshman Bowles resident. “It seemed like a good opportunity to get closer (to alumni) and get more connections.”

Laky, a former Bowlesman who graduated from Berkeley in 1962, said he hopes future residents of Bowles will gain the “camaraderie and friendships that I got from my four years at college.”

Contact Anna Sturla at [email protected].