Volume 78, Issue 18
March 9, 2007

New Dorms to be Constructed After Commencement

Two Dorms, Not the Originally Planned Three, Will be Built Due to Budget Restrictions

BY KATIE BLAHA
Features Editor

Two new residence halls are planned to be built near North Kibler Practice Field by next August, with design space left open for the possibility of a third building to follow.

The current estimated cost for three residence halls would be about $30 million, including the accommodations, such as a parking lot expansion.

Joe Holt, Executive Vice President, said, "The pricing is coming in [so] that we will probably have to defer the third one, but that decision hasn't been made yet...If we can get the third one economically while we're building the other two, we'll go forward."

Mela Dutka, Vice President of Student Affairs, said, "The costs are likely to be higher than anticipated but we don't know that until we bid on the buildings. The reality is over time we want three buildings built but we want to be financially prudent...We're pretty confident in the two buildings but I think with the third building would put us in a position that, financially, we really don't want to be in. We would just postpone that."

The decision of postponing the third building will be made once the Board of Trustees approves construction later this spring, which will start the bidding of construction companies.

According to Holt, the school only envisioned building the two buildings in order to achieve the Strategic Plan goal of raising the amount of students living on campus to 90 percent.

Currently there are about 70 percent of students living on campus, according to Mela Dutka, Vice President for Student Affairs.

The two suite-style residence halls would hold 200 beds combined and allow four people per suite.

The third building would then be built to provide extra capacity for students while aggressive renovation is done to the older residence halls.

It was the architects that suggested the third building due to the ideal U-shaped space available for it, according to Holt.

"It shouldn't be a surprise or disappointment if we don't build the third building right now but we also don't want to do anything to preclude it in the future," said Holt.

Design and preliminary work for the three buildings, such as sizing a geothermal field for heating and air conditioning, was started last spring.

The third building was included in these plans so that when it comes time to build, the infrastructure work will already be complete.

The school would rather not hire a third party to build the third residence hall and have students lease that space, according to Holt, since WC would like to build, own and operate their own residence halls.

"We're doing everything now so that when we do build the third building, it's already designed and all the utilities are at the site. It'll just be a matter of finding somebody to throw it up real quick," said Holt.