MSU to begin plans for new, 400-room residence hall

MSU is currently looking to expand its housing capacity and is in the early phases of planning the construction of a new residence hall.

Tammie Brown, Chief Housing Officer at MSU, explained, “We have exhausted our ability to be creative with the number of students that are coming to live with us each fall.” At the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester, 150 students were placed in overflow spots.

The idea was presented before the Board of Regents at their recent meeting in Butte and the selection process for the project site and architect are under way. The building will house 400 students. The significant increase in spots will give MSU more flexibility in its housing arrangements.

While MSU expects continued enrollment increases, they will not necessarily come in growing waves of incoming freshmen. Tom Stump, Director of Auxiliary Services, explained, “The growth in the future is not planned to bring in larger and larger classes of freshmen; it is retention, online classes and expansion of our graduate programs, which don’t depend as heavily upon our on campus housing system to serve that group of students.”

Students are encouraged to become engaged in the site selection process. Surveys are being conducted across campus to gain an idea of student preference for the site of the project. Upcoming opportunities for students to express their opinions will take place in Miller Dining Hall on Thursday evening, Oct. 4, and from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. in the SUB Friday, Oct. 5 and Monday, Oct. 8. The information will be passed on to the University Facilities Planning Board, which will narrow the site options down to three. President Cruzado will choose the official location from these three options.

An important factor in choosing a location for the new residence hall is its accessibility to campus resources. Walter Banziger, Director of Planning, Design and Construction, stated, “Proximity to the campus core is very important for the freshman experience. We want them to be close to the academic facilities, we would like them to be close to the student services programs, the SUB, the fitness center and amenities of campus.”

Campus dining halls will also need to prepare to absorb the growing residence hall population. There are plans to renovate all three campus dining halls: Miller, Harrison and Hannon. Renovations in Miller will create an additional 100 seats, and renovations in Harrison will create 30-40 additional seats. Ideally, the new residence hall will be located near one of these dining halls.

In November, a request will be made to the Board of Regents for $60 million: $35 million for the residence hall building, $18 million for dining hall renovations, $5 million for long term repair and replacement of facilities and the rest to cover closing costs. Banziger says once this project is approved, it will be the largest in the state.

The project will initially be financed with bonds, which will be repaid with student housing fees in the future. An extensive evaluation took place to determine if MSU should use this traditional method to fund the project or if they should look to a public-private partnership. It was determined it would be more beneficial for MSU to manage its own funding.

The estimated completion date for the project is Summer of 2016, and the building will be ready for occupation for the Fall 2016 semester.