Shepherd University Holds Meeting To Discuss New Residence Hall

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Turner Hall, Shepherd's oldest residence hall is to be replaced with a new building on West Campus in 2017 Photo courtesy of shepherd.edu
Turner Hall, Shepherd’s oldest residence hall is to be replaced with a new building on West Campus in 2017
Photo courtesy of shepherd.edu

(THE PICKET)- Public comments on a plan to build a residence hall for Shepherd University’s west campus will be accepted Monday, Feb. 29, in a public meeting in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education.

At the meeting attendees may ask questions and comment regarding the project’s projected economic and environmental impacts.

The proposed 81,000 square foot building is expected to have space for over 300 students, with 60 single and 112 double occupancy rooms and include semi-private bathrooms. The Shepherd University Foundation is applying to the USDA’s Community Facilities Program to help fund the project, and if all goes to plan, the residence hall should be fully operational by the fall of 2017.

The proposal to build the new residence hall was made in part to make on-campus life more attractive to new students, according to Dr. Thomas Segar to the Student Government Association, as well as addressing some of the concerns voiced by current residents of the university. Building a new, modern, residence hall is also more cost effective in the long run than renovating some of the older residence halls on campus, according to James Vigil, vice president for administration at Shepherd University.

Turner Hall for example, the hall slated to be replaced by the new project, was opened 40 years ago. Turner residents have long voiced concerns over a lack of privacy in the communal bathrooms and the difficulty of staying comfortable without air-conditioning, especially during the beginning of the fall semester. Maintenance costs over the next 10 years would require replacing the roof, windows, and parts of the hall’s internal infrastructure, according to Vigil.

Conditions are similar in sister residence halls Gardiner and Kenamond, which are set to be modernized in the coming years. With populations primarily composed of freshman, quality of life is a turn off for many new students who decide to seek off-campus living arrangements instead. Between 2012 and 2015, on-campus residency dropped from 96 percent of capacity to 86 percent, partially attributable to the current enrollment slump.

With the new residence hall, the school seeks to provide more attractive options for new and current residents, and aims to increase enrollment and the on-campus resident population. The proposed floorplan was designed to cater to students who desire more privacy and personal space.

Plans also include having a new restaurant and lounge on the first floor. What will be offered at the new dining space is still a matter of debate, but university officials have been taking ideas from students involved in the Student Government Association and around campus for consideration.