JAIMIE FRANKLIN & CAITLIN WHITE
News Assistant and Staff Writer
The Lausanne international program in Switzerland anticipates a semester of exciting change after the December purchase of La Croisee Hotel, which houses participating students.
The hotel has served as housing for Lausanne students since the program’s inception in January 2007. But up until this semester, students shared the house with regular hotel guests.
Pepperdine International Programs purchased the property for 10.5 million Swiss francs, or about $9.5 million, on Dec. 15, and is now planning several minor refurbishments to the house, including fresh paint and carpeting, and improvements to the main entrance, dining area and classrooms.
The biggest change, however, is that students will no longer share the house with hotel guests. With the extra space provided, Pepperdine plans on expanding the program to include 70 students by the 2009-2010 school year, which would make Lausanne the largest international program.
Students attending the year-long program said they are excited to have the house to themselves this semester and are ready to start making it feel like home.
“We’re a lot more unified now that we’re the only guests at the hotel, it seems more like home,” said sophomore Adrienne Young. “It’s cool too because now we can start decorating the house like it’s ours. We can leave a legacy.”
Sophomore JoAnne Baldwin agrees and said she is also excited about changes to the house.
“We have our own space now, everything is a lot more relaxed, and now we can plan improvements, which should be awesome,” Baldwin said.
Working as an RA is also easier now that the hotel only houses students, as sophomore RA Laura Fehlbaum pointed out.
“It’s so much nicer now because we pretty much have the run of the hotel,” Fehlbaum said. “Last semester we had a lot of conflicts with the other guests as far as room usage, which was frustrating.”
The Lausanne program faced several challenges that threatened the start of the program altogether, according to Charles Hall, dean of International Programs. After the Lyon, France, program was disbanded during the 2005-2006 academic year, Pepperdine sought to create an open French-speaking program centrally located in Europe.
After deciding on Lausanne, administrators spent more than eight months searching for a housing facility, only to find buildings that had too many problems, were too expensive or too small.
Hall then met current Swiss program director Mary Mayenfisch through a Church of Christ ministry in Lausanne. She was working as a lawyer in the area at the time.
Mayenfisch recommended that Pepperdine consider La Croisee Hotel, which offers stunning views of Lake Geneva and is owned by a Christian organization that provides rooms at discounted costs to travelers.
“[The hotel] meant to take in people who were maybe down and out,” Hall said. “Part of it functioned as a normal hotel and another was a ministry to those who couldn’t afford an expensive hotel or who needed shelter.”
Hall added that the hotel was a “God send” to the Pepperdine community in that the Christian foundation that owned the hotel had planned on only selling the property to another Christian foundation that would continue giving back to the community.
“This is probably the most exciting program we’ve started in a number of years in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe,” Hall said. “We are really privileged to have it.”