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Friday, September 29, 2023


Dorm proposal benefits UH

Projects designed to provide more freshman housing and to improve on-campus dining passed Friday through the UH System Facilities, Construction and Master Planning Committee.

Carl Carlucci, Elwyn Lee and Dave Irvin outlined the benefits of increasing housing for freshmen, which include improved student retention and graduation rates as well as fostering a community atmosphere for incoming students.

‘This housing is directed toward a living, learning environment,’ said Carlucci, vice president of administration and finance. ‘The layout of the floor, the way the rooms are laid out are all designed to encourage student social interaction.’

If passed by the finance committee, the Undergraduate Housing Program will provide 1,000 more beds for freshmen living on campus as well as rooms that can serve as classrooms, seminar rooms and student lounges, Carlucci said.

Lee, vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said the new expansions will increase chances of housing all first-year students on campus.

‘Freshman housing is very important because studies show that they’re much more involved in their studies and campus life,’ Lee said. ‘Ideally, students would move from freshman housing with more community to apartment-style housing as they become juniors and seniors.’

To determine what the new housing should offer students, the committee listened to reports gathered from other schools looking to increase the number of students living on campus.

‘We looked across the country to find what works for freshman housing and what doesn’t,” said Irvin, associate vice Chancellor for Plant Operation.’ ‘We saw there was a huge need for economical housing, and they wanted to stay on campus.’

The new housing will be built on Wheeler Street between the Moody Towers and the Justin Dart Jr. Center for Students with Disabilities.’

Construction will begin as early as April and be completed by August 2010 at an estimated cost of $59.75 million, part of which may be subsidized by the government, Carlucci said.

‘We expect that this will be a very favorable financial situation.’ We have included a request for funding for this project in the federal stimulus package,’ Carlucci said.’ ‘They’re looking for shovel-ready projects, and this is a shovel-ready project.’

The Facilities, Construction and Master Planning Committee also approved a program to renovate the Moody Towers dining hall, presented by associate Vice President of University Services Emily Messa.

‘Fifty-five percent of the dining hall is kitchen and serving space, so it’s not really laid out in a way that would accommodate the 2,000 students at this point,’ Messa said.’ ‘The kitchen and infrastructure is outdated and in some cases original.’

If passed by the finance committee, the proposed renovations would allow the dining hall to serve 1,950 meals daily instead of the 750 served daily now.’ Construction will take place over the summer and be completed in time for the fall semester at an estimated cost of $9.8 million.

Patrons will be given eight unique dining options, including a Mongolian grill, stone-oven baked pizza as well as vegetarian and vegan selections, all made to order.

‘It will provide students with a whole culinary experience,’ Messa said.’ ‘You’ll choose what you want prepared for you.’

Both projects will go before the finance committee tomorrow before seeking final approval to proceed on Feb. 17.

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