Trustees agree student housing study needed




Garden City Community College will be conducting a study to determine the cost of adding on-campus student housing.

At Tuesday night's Board of Trustees meeting, trustees voted unanimously for the study.

GCCC President Herbert Swender told trustees that an ad-hoc housing committee was formed in August to look into housing needs on campus.

Based on some of the committee's findings, Ryan Ruda, vice president of student services, put together a summary of considerations for the board to review. In four of the last five years, the campus has been over capacity.

Swender said the capacity of the dorms is 305.

"I think we're at 340 this semester," he said. "We've demonstrated a need the last couple of years, and it's time to look at growing the college with the resident student, and I think that will help us achieve that."

Ruda told trustees that he has received several requests from students wanting single, or individual, dorm rooms.

"Right now, with being over capacity, we don't have the ability to address that need, so one of the considerations of the committee was to be able to fit that need through the west hall," Ruda said, adding that once additional housing is made available, one floor of the existing west hall dorms could be used as single occupancy dorm rooms.

Swender said that on-campus housing will be a critical aspect of the college's ability to remain competitive with other educational institutions in the state.

"What we've done, in literally the past 24 months, we've had site visits to other campuses that are building dorms," Swender said. "I know of no less than six universities in Kansas that are building freshman halls. Our competition is growing for the freshman student, and we can deliver, in my view, a better freshman experience at a better price, so let's go after that market."

He told trustees that the college is in good shape to expand and that student housing will provide the opportunity to do so.

"We have two locations we're looking at," Swender said, adding that additional housing planned would increase student occupancy from 130 to 150 students.

One of the possible locations would be adjacent to the Beth Tedrow Student Center and the other, west of there, at the ropes course area.

"Anything on campus is in play, but those two locations are what we're currently looking at," Swender said.

Trustee Ron Schwartz said that to grow the college, which is part of the board and administration's vision, housing will have to be added.

"So if we're needing a motion, I move that we pursue the study on housing, to bring to us some figures that we can go forth on construction and doing renovation on existing housing," Schwartz said.

Swender said that the study also will be used to determine if it is more cost effective to renovate the current dorms or demolish them and build new ones.

"In long-term plans, each facility has a lifetime, and we're going to compare the lifetime of the facility vs. replacing. Is substantial renovations better or replacing? And I think probably on the original dorms, we're probably looking at replacing," he said.

He said that the study should be completed by December, at which point he and the committee will have a recommendation to present to the board. The tentative goal for having additional housing on campus, he said, will be in the fall of 2015.

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