New residence hall possible for fall 2015

Residence Life Director Frank Bartlett presented the progress of the Residence Life Master Plan Thursday to students, faculty and staff.

Bartlett

The master plan is a comprehensive plan for the renovation of existing student housing and the planned building of new structures to meet the expected needs of the student population through 2031.

Bartlett explained that several projects are underway and ones that are coming soon, including the reopening of Fischer Hall for the fall 2012 semester.

Next up for renovations includes Wellers Hall, which will close at the conclusion of the current semester and reopen in fall 2013.  Bigelow Hall and Benson Hall are the next buildings scheduled to undergo renovations after Wellers Hall is finished.

Kaster

Bartlett reported the building of a new residence hall is a possibility by the 2015-2016 fiscal year to help keep up with the growth of the UW-Whitewater campus.

Since the opening of Starin Hall in fall 2010, Bartlett said the population of students with junior or senior standing living on campus has doubled. Prior to the suite-styled building opening, only about 300 upperclassmen lived on campus. That number doubled to around 600 after Starin Hall opened, and is now around 700.

Residence Life Project Manager Mary Kaster helped Bartlett put together the presentation. The option of remodeling the Wells towers came up in discussions but it was decided, through a study, that it would be better to build a new residence hall.

The Wells towers will still see the necessary upgrades but not a full renovation, Kaster said.

Kaster said the university will continue to lease off-campus apartments, such as Cambridge Apartments and Fox Meadows Apartments, until on-campus housing can fulfill the university’s needs.

As the needs of the UW-Whitewater campus change, so does the master plan. Bartlett spoke in detail of the changes made to the plan in the past and the projects planned for the future.  Similarly, Bartlett expects that the current plan will see changes as well.

The master plan was compiled by a committee whose membership included representatives from the Residence Life professional staff along with university administration, Whitewater Student Government, Residence Hall Association and community members from the Whitewater Rental Association.

“We invited the Whitewater Rental Association and had three of the members of the community come and join us and actually instead of coming for one, they stayed for all of them,” Kaster said. “It proved to be a really good back and forth with them because we got their input and they got ours.”

With the increase of upperclassmen on-campus, Residence Life continues  to focus on the development of the freshmen and sophomore students housed on campus. The mission of the Office of Residence Life focuses on providing quality housing and promoting student success.

Bartlett said it is not the place of Residence Life to take away business from off-campus housing.  With that in mind, Residence Life will always welcome upperclassmen as residents but its work will remain geared toward students in their first few years at the university.

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