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Millersville to Replace all Nine Residence Halls

September 17, 2012

It’s feasible that a Millersville University student this fall could be living in the same dormitory his dad once did.

As did his grandfather.

That’s the reality of having residence halls that date back to the 1950s, or, for the “new” dorms, the 1970s.

So to catch up to their peers and to fix a glaring hole in its campus offerings, Millersville University announced Monday it will be replacing all nine of its residence halls with eight new, $180 million suite style accommodations.

The existing residence halls are “traditional dorm rooms,” said Aminta Breaux, vice president for student affairs.

They are the cinder-block heavy, small room size style that look quaint with the advent of modern college suites.

“I think we are losing our competitive advantage,” Breaux said.

The big group shower room model of yesteryear hasn’t been a hit, either, she said, and is one of the main complaints of students about the dorms.

“Students coming from smaller families … they are used to more privacy,” she said, adding that student surveys were done to get a sense of what’s needed. The new dorms should take care of all that. They’ll have all the modern conveniences and the suite-style that has become the standard on college campuses nationwide, plus common areas for faculty to offer learning opportunities.

Students will have access to game rooms, WiFi, private bathrooms and in some cases a kitchenette. And, despite what students tell their mothers to the contrary, laundry rooms will be available on site that even notify students online when a washer or dryer is available. The first phase of dorms will be done by August 2014 with work starting next May; no students will be displaced in the process. It’ll take about five years to build everything, with about 2,000 beds in all.

Three halls will be the first to be demolished in the spring of 2014, including the two high-rises, Lenhardt and Burrowes Hall, as well as Hobbs Hall. The new dorms will be on the South Quad, adjacent to a new 350-space parking lot on Centennial Drive that will soon be built to offset the loss of 150 parking spaces on the construction site, Breaux said.

Funding: Breaux said Millersville’s tuition shouldn’t be affected by the $180 million costs.

That’s because the state university will follow the model of many of the other 13 state universities that have been remodeling using a public and private partnership to get private bonds instead of state funding.

“We are still going to stay focused on keeping prices as low as possible,” Breaux said of tuition. The nonprofit company Student Services Inc. will issue the tax-exempt bonds to finance the entire project, while Millersville will lease the land to Student Services and get ownership of the dorms after 30 years.

It’s the same arrangement Shippensburg and other state universities have done. Student Services provides various services on campus, such as managing the university store and the Student Memorial Center.

Georgia-based RISE will be in charge of overseeing the project.

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