When Watkins Hall was built in 1926, it gave women with financial needs a place to live while attending Kansas University for about $36 a month.
Watkins Hall is now one of eight scholarship halls at KU, and a new hall, Amini Hall, is scheduled to open in the fall of 1992. The new hall will be the first addition to the scholarship hall system since Douthart and Grace Pearson halls were completed in 1957.
According to Jim Wilkins, assistant director of housing, once Amini Hall is finished, about 450 men and women who show academic integrity, responsibility and an interest in extracurricular activities will be able to live on campus for about $600 less per year than students pay for residence hall accommodations.
Scholarship hall residents take on more responsibility in the day-to-day affairs of their living unit by handling the bulk of the cooking and cleaning chores themselves, he said.
"That's why it's so important that the students in the scholarship halls meet certain requirements," he said. "They have to show more responsibility."
STUDENTS WHO want to live in scholarship halls are required to provide background information such as high school class ranking and college entrance exam scores and respond to two essay questions. The student committee that reviews the applications currently receives applications from about 200 more students than can be accommodated, Wilkins said, but that situation should ease somewhat when Amini Hall is opened.
The screening process is aimed at attracting a high caliber of students, Wilkins said, noting that the 388 students who lived in the scholarship halls in 1991, averaged a half-point higher in grade-point averages than students in other living groups on campus.
Wilkins said that this form of cooperative living where about 50 residents share the duties of a household isn't common among other universities and is one of KU's "best-kept secrets."
"Very few people know about them," he said.
Dianne Fischman, director of Sellards Hall, a scholarship hall for women, said the low profile of the halls is a result of the residents.
"The people who live in the halls tend to come from small towns, and they go back and tell other people in those towns about the hall," she said. This word-of-mouth method of publicity results in a warmer environment, she said, because a lot of the residents have much in common.
WILKINS SAID the residents in a scholarship hall quickly become a tight-knit group because of the work they do every day. Whether it's planning the month's menu with the hall director or dusting the furniture in the sitting room, residents are involved in almost every function of the hall.
Fischman added that many of the residents enjoy being able to live with a group of students while maintaining a certain amount of self-reliance.
About 20 percent of the students who live in the scholarship halls choose to stay there until they graduate, Wilkins said.
KU now has four scholarship halls for women Douthart, Sellards, Miller and Watkins, and four for men Battenfeld, Grace Pearson, Pearson and Stephenson all located on the east side of campus on Lilac Lane, Louisiana Street and Alumni Place. The new Amini Hall, to be built in the 1300 block of Louisiana, will be a men's hall. Wilkins said the university also hopes to build another women's hall, although funding for that isn't available now. Once Amini Hall is built, it and Pearson will be the only scholarship halls that are wheelchair accessible.