The University of New Mexico’s Residence Life & Student Housing has partnered with African American Student Services to create a new black-focused, on-campus residential community beginning fall 2018.

Essence Hall, a student-led initiative first proposed by the UNM Black Student Alliance, will be an optional community designed to enhance the college experience for students who are a part of or interested in matters related to the black community. The living learning community will offer residents an extended network of resources including the opportunity to connect with faculty and peers as well as engage in programs that focus on cultural awareness, academic success and civic engagement.

“We are very excited to offer this new, inclusive living learning community that is open to all students and will focus on cultural enrichment and academic excellence,” said Wayne Sullivan, UNM Residence Life & Student Housing Director. “Our living learning communities are designed to link the academic experience with meaningful opportunities outside the classroom.”

Coronado Hall

Housing was one of six areas of concern for the UNM black population identified through a Black Student Alliance town hall meeting held in December 2015 that addressed the Black Climate at UNM. African American Student Services has also seen great success in students who have participated in their Summer Scholars Academy- a pipeline cohort initiative where incoming Freshmen students lived and learned together throughout the summer.

“It is always rewarding to see Black student-led initiatives come to fruition,” said Scott Carreathers, director, African American Student Services. “We are extremely proud of our students and are excited to extend our community and resources to housing, an integral component of the student experience.”

Essence Hall will be one of 18 interest-specific living learning communities now offered at UNM and is open to all grade levels. Each living learning community offers a supportive environment for students to explore common interests in a dedicated area of their living environment.

Living learning communities have been shown to improve student success at colleges and universities throughout the United States. A recent UNM study showed that students who live on campus have higher GPAs and stay in school longer than students who choose to live off campus.

For more information, visit UNM’s Living Learning Program.

The UNM African American Student Services program provides culturally relevant programs designed to assist primarily African American students in making a confident transition and successful adjustment to The University of New Mexico. For more information about AASS, visit