UA short 60 beds for fresh­men

Stu­dents to stay in tem­po­rary hous­ing; work starts soon on new dorm

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JAIME ADAME

FAYET­TEVILLE — About 60 fresh­men ar­riv­ing for the fall se­mes­ter at the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville will be with­out per­ma­nent room as­sign­ments at a time when con­struc­tion is set to be­gin on new hous­ing to boost the num­ber of stu­dents liv­ing on cam­pus.

A to­tal of 5,830 stu­dents — 4,667 fresh­men and 1,163 up­per­class­men — have hous­ing con­tracts, up about 2 per­cent from this time a year ago, univer­sity spokesman Christo­pher Spencer said in an email Fri­day.

Fall classes be­gin Aug. 21, with move-in tak­ing place this week­end for many stu­dents.

The univer­sity has a to­tal bed ca­pac­ity 5,726, ac­cord­ing to data pub­lished on­line for 17 res­i­dence halls and cam­pus apart­ment hous­ing. But Spencer said the listed ca­pac­ity re­flects only rooms built for hous­ing stu­dents. Other rooms have flex­i­ble uses, Spencer said, and also may house stu­dents.

“We an­tic­i­pate that ap­prox­i­mately 60 stu­dents will be in a tem­po­rary as­sign­ment for a short amount of time on cam­pus,” Spencer said in an email, with UA staff to help them move once the stu­dents re­ceive a fi­nal hous­ing as­sign­ment.

Last year, 11 days be­fore the first day of classes, 174 stu­dents were ex­pected to ar­rive at UA with­out a room as­sign­ment be­cause of a lack of space, UA of­fi­cials said. On the first day of class last fall, 17 were in tem­po­rary hous­ing, as last-minute can­cel­la­tions and changes typ­i­cally clear up the hous­ing picture, UA of­fi­cials have said.

In Novem­ber, UA Sys­tem trustees ap­proved a new res­i­dence hall project ex­pected to cost about $77 mil­lion.

The 710-bed project, de­scribed in univer­sity doc­u­ments as the Sta­dium Drive Res­i­dence Halls, will have site work be­gin in a few weeks, Mike John­son, the univer­sity’s as­so­ciate vice chan­cel­lor for fa­cil­i­ties, said in an email.

Chan­cel­lor Joe Stein­metz told trustees in Novem­ber that the univer­sity plans to con­vert two res­i­dences, Glad­son-Ri­p­ley and Buchanan-Droke, into of­fice space, so the project would end up adding about 500 beds to the univer­sity’s hous­ing ca­pac­ity.

How­ever, no fi­nal de­ci­sion has been made about closing any res­i­dence halls, ac­cord­ing to Flo John­son, UA’s as­sis­tant vice chan­cel­lor for univer­sity hous­ing.

“Univer­sity Hous­ing will con­tinue to eval­u­ate and de­ter­mine fu­ture us­age based on stu­dent needs,” John­son said in a state­ment re­leased by the univer­sity.

The new hous­ing is pro­jected to open in fall 2019, Spencer said.

The univer­sity also has seen new hous­ing for stu­dents in fra­ter­ni­ties and soror­i­ties open in re­cent years. In fall of last year, 1,136 stu­dents lived in Greek hous­ing, said Scott Flana­gin, a univer­sity spokesman.

No new res­i­dence halls have opened since 2013, when UA added about 630 beds. Over­all stu­dent en­roll­ment has in­creased in re­cent years, and last year’s fall fresh­man en­roll­ment of 4,967 was a record high and an in­crease of about 15 per­cent com­pared with 2013.

This fall, about 5,100 fresh­men are ex­pected to en­roll, Suzanne McCray, the univer­sity’s vice provost for en­roll­ment and dean of ad­mis­sions, said in an email.

Stu­dents with tem­po­rary as­sign­ments for now will likely live in con­verted study lounges or share a room with a res­i­dent as­sis­tant, Spencer said. A res­i­dent as­sis­tant is a stu­dent liv­ing in a dor­mi­tory who serves in a lead­er­ship role for res­i­dents.

“We have no plans of hous­ing any stu­dents off cam­pus,” Spencer said.

Stein­metz told trustees in Novem­ber that stu­dents liv­ing on cam­pus are more likely to stay in school. A Fe­bru­ary re­port from a univer­sity task force rec­om­mended the ex­pan­sion of what are known at UA as liv­ing-learn­ing com­mu­ni­ties, clus­ters of rooms within res­i­dence halls where stu­dents live who share ma­jors or study within a spe­cific dis­ci­pline. Last fall, 256 stu­dents lived in such liv­ing-learn­ing com­mu­ni­ties, some­times re­ferred to as LLCs, Spencer said.

“Stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate in LLC com­mu­ni­ties tend to have a higher re­ten­tion rate at the univer­sity and higher grade-point av­er­ages,” Spencer said.

This fall, an­nual hous­ing rates in­creased in dou­ble oc­cu­pancy rooms at UA res­i­dence halls. The low­est an­nual room-only rate at a co-ed dor­mi­tory is $5,548, up from $5,482 in fall of last year for Glad­son-Ri­p­ley Hall.

Other res­i­dence halls saw larger in­creases. Pom­fret Hall, for ex­am­ple, saw room-only rates in­crease to $5,770 from $5,553 a year ear­lier.

“While rates have in­creased this year over last year, the amount of in­crease is less than pre­vi­ous years,” John­son said in a state­ment re­leased by the univer­sity. “Univer­sity Hous­ing con­tin­ues to prac­tice strong fis­cal man­age­ment and solid op­er­a­tions in an ef­fort to keep the cost of ed­u­ca­tion down.”

Stu­dents with tem­po­rary as­sign­ments for now will likely live in con­verted study lounges or share a room with a res­i­dent as­sis­tant, univer­sity spokesman Christo­pher Spencer said.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Raquel Romero (left), a se­nior at the Univer­sity of Arkansas, and Maria Aran­dia, a sopho­more, pose with glasses and a frame Fri­day as they are pho­tographed on the north ter­race of the Union Court­yard on the cam­pus in Fayet­teville. The sum­mer-themed photo booth was spon­sored by Univer­sity Pro­grams and in­cluded light snacks.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Rea­gan Rus­sell, of Cop­pell, Texas, an in­com­ing fresh­man at the Univer­sity of Arkansas, climbs Thurs­day onto the desk in her Maple Hill cam­pus hous­ing to ar­range her bed­ding at the univer­sity in Fayet­teville. Stu­dents, in­clud­ing those in the univer­sity band and par­tic­i­pat­ing in soror­ity re­cruit­ment, had the op­por­tu­nity to move in early.

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