Wichita State Plans For New Student Housing

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Three weeks into the job, Wichita State President Bardo has student housing on his mind.

"The residence halls here are older," he said. "I came here initially in 1973 and all of them were in place in 1973."

On-campus housing is part of the new president's big plan to increase quality of life for students.

"We need to do some real updating and modernization. By the time you get done with that, the costs are such that there's not necessarily a benefit of updating," said Bardo.

Instead, he is hoping to replace current housing buildings with modern facilities.

Currently, 8% of students enrolled at the university live on-campus, and the residence halls are at or near capacity each semester.

"I believe a lot of students would take advantage of more housing on campus. A lot of students would enjoy it as well. They'd have access to the campus, everything would be very conveniently placed," said Joshua Wills, student who lives on-campus.

According to U.S. News & World Report, four universities, that Bardo says are comparable to Wichita State, have double digit percentages of students who live on-campus.

12% Portland State University
16% University of Akron
24% Old Dominion University
25% UNC-Charlotte

"In a metropolitan-type university, a school like ours, you're going to want about 20-30% of your students living on-campus, rather than 8%. That doesn't mean you're not going to be primarily commuter. You are," said Bardo.

The president said his staff is on board with plans to improve students housing, from upgrading furniture to adding new spaces.

"I think housing and dining are both huge priorities. If we're talking about a good retention, keeping our students here, and pulling in students from all over the world, I think it's an area that you want to provide the best," said Steve Larson, Director of Residence Life and Housing.

Before those ideas can move forward, Bardo said they will need a master plan. The master plan for the entire university will be in the works starting in the Fall.

The three residence halls were built in the 1960's. Brennan Hall was built 1962. Fairmount Towers were built in 1964, but the university purchased the complex in 1977, and has undergone extensive remodeling in recent years. Wheatshocker Apartments were built in 1964 and purchased by the university in 1994. With an investment of about $11.6 million in revenue bonds, the university gutted the six-story, U-shaped building. The first phase of renovation was completed Fall 1996.

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