A Place To Call Home The Neil And Darlene Harl Commons

Since opening in the fall of 2013, the Neil and Darlene Harl Commons (Harl Commons), has become a favorite place for College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students to gather.

Made possible by Neil Harl (’55 agricultural and life sciences education, ’65 PhD economics), Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, and emeritus professor of economics, and his wife, Darlene (’81 sociology), the Harl Commons includes an open area for informal gatherings, private meetings spaces, a public computer bank and the Global Café.

“The Harl Commons is a great place for students to hang out, do homework, or grab something to eat. It’s one of my favorite places on campus,” says Cameron Jodlowski, sophomore in agricultural and life sciences education, “The technology in the conference room also makes it the perfect spot to meet for group projects.”

The Mente Conference Room, named for long-time college supporters Glen (’61 animal husbandry, ’63 MS animal nutrition) and Mary Jo Mente, features a conference table for 10 people, a white board and 70 inch screen which can be used for group presentations. The space is reserved exclusively for students, and in such demand the college’s student services unit has set up a new reservation webpage allowing students to check the space’s availability and request reservations, says Tim Carey, student services specialist for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“The student use of the Harl Commons is exactly what Dr. Harl described in his vision for the space—a place where students feel at home,” says David Acker, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, “I make a point of escorting first time visitors through the space to give them a lasting positive impression of our college, and a chance to enjoy some of the new amenities.”

One such amenity, the Global Café, is a particular draw for students offering snacks, deli-style entrees, beverages and coffee. The coffee, a fair-trade Ugandan variety, showcases the relationship between Uganda and the college’s Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods. Fifty percent of sales from each cup support college programs supporting Ugandan children and families. According to ISU Dining, the Global Café sells nearly 400 cups of the brew per week.

“The Harl Commons is the new front door to the college,” says Acker. “One we’re extremely proud of.”