ROCHESTER (CBS Detroit) As college costs continue to skyrocket and more students look for ways to stay close to home, the Oakland University Board of Trustees passed a resolution on Monday allowing administrators to begin the process of designing and constructing a $30 million student housing facility.
To be constructed by the fall of 2014, the new dorms will accommodate up to 550 students, offering a chance for southeast Michigan students to get the “away at school” experience close to their own backyards.
School officials said the decision to build dorms comes in response to “considerable demand for housing on Oakland’s nearly 20,000-student campus.” Fifteen consecutive years of student enrollment growth has fueled this demand and boosted student housing rental agreements by 37 percent over the last four years.
“We’ve known for some time that as the quality and value of Oakland’s academic programs have grown, more and more prospective students have wanted to become part of our campus community,” said Oakland University President Gary Russi.
He added: “The university is now in an excellent position to begin implementing its strategic plan for housing development and answer the strong demand we’re hearing from students both locally and across the region.”
University administrators will now negotiate with Southfield-based Neumann/Smith Architecture and Rochester-based Frank Rewold & Son construction managers to oversee the design and construction of the new housing.
Planners anticipate that greater availability of on-campus living will enhance both the academic and extracurricular experience of Oakland’s students – a prospect bolstered by recent survey results indicating that 84 percent of the university’s student body endorse expansion plans.
“We’ve paid great attention to enhancing student life on campus, and I believe a great deal of the demand we’re seeing can be attributed to prospective students wanting to dive into the college life experience we offer,” said Mary Beth Snyder, Oakland’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.
“We’re excited to welcome more students who want to live on campus, especially when they come from the farther corners of our expanding geographic reach. The addition of this new housing for freshmen and sophomores will make campus life at Oakland more inviting and interesting for everyone here. ”
Maintaining a focus on energy efficient and environmentally friendly design, the Board of Trustees asked that administrators pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the new housing facility. Oakland has incorporated these principles in the design of its recently opened Human Health Building, as well as its soon-to-be constructed Engineering Center.
Details of the dorms themselves will emerge in coming months as university administrators return to the Board of Trustees for approval of housing facility design and financing.
To learn more about the academic programs, student life experiences and on-campus housing Oakland University offers, visit www.oakland.edu.