The rumors are true: a new dorm at Keene State College is in the works.
With the help from the state, KSC has been able to afford the construction of a new first-year dorm on campus that will house roughly 300 students in the fall of 2016.
Kemal Atkins is the new vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at KSC. Having only been in office approximately 60 days, he has been able to work closely with the building committee consisting of faculty as well as students.
According to Atkins, this new dorm will enhance student experience and “eliminate the tripling” that is happening in the current first-year dorms.
Atkins said he would like to see the percent of students living on campus increase.
“Research shows that students have a higher success rate, a higher level of satisfaction when they live on campus,” Atkins said.
As of right now, 58 percent of undergraduates live on campus. It is with high hopes, according to Atkins, that the percent raises to 70 percent within the next few years.
The building committee is compiled of educated staff and faculty alongside KSC students. “Students will be heavily involved in the process in terms of providing and generating ideas about the design,” Atkins said.
He said he believes the students’ opinions are important, as they are the ones that are living in the dorms.
Atkins said many architects and engineers have offered to design this facility. The building committee has narrowed down their options to a final four and will present their building proposal at the end of September.
In addition he said after a vendor has been chosen and a design is set up, students on the committee will set up focus groups and distribute surveys to other students throughout campus to get their opinions on aspects of the new hall.
A topic of controversy for this new construction project is the placement of the new building.
Atkins explained that the Tisdale buildings next to Bushnell will be torn down to make room for the new first-year residence hall.
“The residence hall itself is just a part of a larger plan to improve residential life and overall campus environment,” Atkins said.
The building committee is identifying where else to put the upperclassmen that currently reside in Tisdale.
The destruction of Tisdale will result in a loss of approximately 75 beds.
During construction in 2015, Amber Curran will be a sophomore at KSC. “I’m a little worried I won’t have anywhere to live,” she said.
Curran said she believes she’ll be forced to live elsewhere.
Meghan Green will also be a sophomore during the take-down of Tisdale.
“I’m really not quite sure what they’re going to do with us,” Green said, “I don’t want to be stuck in a dorm far away from campus.”
As of right now, Atkins said the plans for moving the students are still “in the works.”
Also in the works is the improvement of current-resident halls.
Atkins said older halls such as Randall will not be neglected during the process of construction. The building committee plans to fix up older dorms to make them more attractive and livable for incoming students.
For those students concerned about the cost of this project, not to worry.
According to Atkins, the state has granted KSC a bond by the New Hampshire Health and Education Facility Authority (HEFA), of approximately 32 million dollars to carry out their new idea.
HEFA provides capital financing assistance to New Hampshire, non-profit education and healthcare institutions.
Overall, the building of a new first-year dorm will “enhance student experience” and “advance the learning environment” at KSC according to Atkins.
Although construction will not begin just yet, Atkins said he and the building committee believe the new dorm is the start of an improved campus.
MacKenzie Clarke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org