Example of the Student Success District design

Creating Tomorrow

By infusing creative literacy into the fabric of student life, we're unlocking student success
and professional development on a mass scale while teaching students what it means to be human. 

The Student Success District is a collaboration with the UA Libraries,
Student Success and Retention Innovation, Student Engagement and Career Development,
and Campus Life programs in the UA Provost’s Office.

At the CATalyst Studios at the Main Library, students, faculty, staff, and community members
can learn new skills while connecting with new people and technology.



The UA undergraduate curriculum is increasingly based on students working in teams with hands-on learning opportunities. The Student Success District will be an integral part of how students continue this education outside the classroom.

The District is designed for collaborative learning, from the award-winning peer-to-peer tutoring program, to the inter-disciplinary learning communities of the CATalyst Studios at the Main Library. In this campus makerspace, special emphasis is placed on using different technologies as platforms for students to learn together in ways like...

  • Creating a prototype for an art project or an engineering model with 3-D printing technology

  • Using virtual reality to explore remote geographical sites, solve interactive puzzles, or create an animated film

  • Presenting research findings using multimedia production tools

  • Learning to program DIY computers such as the Raspberry Pi or Arduino boards

  • Fabricating with a laser cutter to create a physical model of a creative concept

  • Developing interactive GIS-based maps displayed on a state-of-the-art visualization screen

For generations to come, the Student Success District will prepare and propel students in every discipline into meaningful life experiences.



The adaptive reuse of Bear Down Gym will transform this University of Arizona landmark into a central campus destination for all students, while honoring its history and preserving this iconic building.

Bear Down Gym is a cherished campus building with a rich history of serving our students in multiple roles and for many purposes over its storied life. We want this legacy to live on.

The “Gymnasium and Armory” building was constructed in 1926. For decades, it was a primary campus event venue for intramurals and informal pickup games as well as dances, concerts, and even student registration. The Wildcats used The Gym as an athletic facility until 1973, when McKale Center was constructed.

During WWII, more than 2,200 Wildcats served in the armed forces, and Bear Down Gym contributed to the war effort by serving as a dormitory for the Naval Training (indoctrination) School from October 1942 through December 1944. At the war’s end, a surge in enrollment caused a shortage of campus housing so Bear Down was furnished with hundreds of double-deck bunks to provide sleeping quarters for students,

After many years of being called Bear Down, the building was officially renamed “Bear Down Gym” in 1983. In 1986, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The legacy of student service continued in 2012 when Bear Down Gym was again called upon to fill a different purpose as a vital student services center located in the core of the campus. Student advising, tutoring and other resources have been located in Bear Down Gym for 8 years. Today the building is positioned to become a critical part of the new Student Success District.

In 2019 the University began to transform the Main Library, the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library, and the new Bartlett Academic Success Center building into an interconnected Student Success District. A renovated Bear Down Gym will become the heart of the District, which is intentionally designed to encourage augmentation and expansion of learning that occurs in the classroom, and it is uniquely situated in one easy-to-find location. Inspired by student input, we are committed to ensuring that the district provides all students with seamless access to the resources and expertise they need to reach their academic and career goals. 

To complete this final component of the District, the project team is focusing on the preservation and adaptive reuse of Bear Down Gym. Careful attention is being given to preserving the iconic elements of the building exterior; respecting the historic volume of space; and retaining important elements of the suspended mezzanine bleachers and gym floor. Future generations of students will enjoy a safe, sustainable, and accessible facility while simultaneously appreciating the rich history of Bear Down Gym as an important legacy of the University of Arizona. This historic icon will remain on the National Register of Historic Places and be renovated and preserved per the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines, in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office.

Scheduled for completion in 2022, the Student Success District is a distinctive project that brings together the university’s commitment to academic and research excellence, student support, health and wellness, and the preparation students need to become leaders in the modern workplace.