FSU Hopes to Construct New Residence Hall by 2017

Frostburg State University (FSU) officials are hoping to construct a new residence hall by 2017, but they have encountered several setbacks that could push back the construction.

“We do not know with any certainty the answer to this yet, [but] we will in June. We’re hoping we’re going to be authorized to begin planning a new residence hall. [We’ll be] starting the design on July 1 and hopefully opening it in 2017,” said FSU President Jonathan Gibralter.

According to Residence Life Director Dana Severance, “The concern was that the state didn’t want us to build a new residence hall until we have a waiting list [for living on campus.]” Severance stated that a feasibility study was done three years ago to determine whether or not FSU needed a new residence hall. At the time, a residence hall was needed, but freshmen class sizes have tapered off since then, eliminating the need for a new hall.

“Assuming that we get our occupancy levels up through increasing our freshmen classes, we’ll be able to get a new residence hall built within the next five years or so,” said Severance. He expressed that, while the current residence halls are older buildings and lack modern amenities, FSU could not justify a new residence hall unless the occupancy levels increased.

“We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to demonstrate to the [Board of Regents’ finance committee] that enrollment has grown and we deserve the authorization for the funding,” said Gibralter.

Sand Spring Hall and the Children’s Center would be razed to make room for the new residence hall, according to Severance. University officials are exploring a solution to expand parking for the new hall.

Severance explained that the building would be based on a suite format, which would include a cluster of rooms around a shared living space and a bathroom. Gibralter said the residence hall would house over 400 students.

More information on this story will be known in June.

Because FSU has not constructed an on-campus residence hall in over 40 years, renovating current halls has been a priority for FSU officials.

“When I got here in 2006, there had not been a major residence hall renovation in a decade or more,” said Gibralter, “We [could not] allow students to live in [those] facilities.” Vice President of Administration and Finance David Rose confirmed that residence halls had not had major renovations since the 1980s.

Severance explained that the uphill halls have been renovated, but renovating the downhill halls will be more difficult.

“The goal was to move downhill and start renovating Cumberland and/or Annapolis. The problem is that Cumberland and Annapolis are much larger than any of the small uphill halls,” Severance said. “So it’s not only much more expensive, but also more time consuming. You can’t just close half of a hall like that because the infrastructure is in one piece.” He explained that renovating a hall could cause asbestos to be released into the air, creating a potential health hazard for students. Because of this, Cumberland and Annapolis need to be closed completely to be renovated.

Another issue with renovating the downhill halls is a lack of money. FSU spent excess revenue from a reserve account to renovate the uphill halls. This excess revenue came from large freshmen classes that came in the late 2000s. However, due to the decreased freshmen numbers in recent years, FSU does not have excess revenue to spend on downhill hall renovations.

Cambridge Hall is currently undergoing renovations, however, its infrastructure allows for quadrants to be closed off. Gibralter stated that the mechanical issues are the primary reasons for Cambridge Hall’s renovations, whereas Cumberland and Annapolis are in need of cosmetic renovations. Cambridge Hall’s renovations include upgrades to the bathrooms and the heating/air conditioning units. Severance confirmed that these renovations are going on schedule.

FSU’s residence halls are deteriorating with their age, and they warrant renovations and replacements. Unfortunately, small class sizes and funding have not allowed for dorms to be renovated or replaced. FSU officials are working to address the poor conditions of the residence halls.

Students interested in residence life and improving residence halls should get involved in RHA and/or SGA.

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