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The Blue & Gray Press | December 11, 2017

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School Asks For $35 M For Dorms

By KAY BOATNER

Residence halls at the University of Mary Washington are about to become a little less crowded.
University officials have requested authority from the state government to raise $35 million to build new residence halls on campus.  Gov. Tim Kaine has addressed the issue in his proposed amendments to the current state budget.  The budget has yet to be approved by the General Assembly.
According to Rick Pearce, associate vice president of business and finance, the bill will be effective July 1 if it is passed.
“We are optimistic that they will be approved in the final version of the budget bill,” Pearce said of the requests regarding new dorms.
Administration is optimistic that the bill will be finalized soon.
“We will know the outcome around the first week of March, assuming the General Assembly adjourns on time,” said Rick Hurley, vice president of administration and finance.
To raise the $35 million necessary to build these dorms, the University plans on borrowing the money.
“We will borrow the money through the state treasury, which is akin to taking out a mortgage,” Hurley said.
The money would be enough to build two new dorms.
“We want to build two residence halls…one in the next logical space up from Arrington Hall and the second over top of the outdoor basketball court down by Marshall,” Hurley said.
While the exact number of students that would be housed in the dorms has not yet been determined, estimates have been made.
“Preliminary plans call for two dorms of 200 and 150 beds,” Pearce said.
The University currently has 16 dorms on campus.  Ten of these buildings are upper-class dorms, while six are freshman dorms.  The University also has on-campus apartments.  According to the UMW Web site, some 2,500 undergraduates live in University housing.
While the bill allowing for new dorms may be passed as soon as July, Hurley predicts that the actual date for starting construction will be much later.
“It will take about two years before construction could begin and then at least another year after that before they would open,” Hurley said.
According to Pearce, administration will start discussing possible start dates soon.
“The President and Board of Visitors will be discussing that along with other strategic planning issues over the next few months,” Pearce said.
New to the University, President William Frawley has made it clear that he thinks the campus needs additional dorms.
“President Frawley has been advocating for one or two new residence halls, as indicated in his speeches to the University community since his arrival,” said Christine Porter, director of residence life.
In his September 2006 inauguration speech, Frawley called for residences that were educational as well as residential.
Porter is excited to see what such dorms would look like.
“I believe that UMW needs new residence halls. I’m inspired by Dr. Frawley’s vision of a multi-use facility that would incorporate themes of living and learning,” Porter said.
Mary Washington students are looking forward to the construction of the new dorms.
“It’s exciting that we’ll be having new additions to the campus,” said junior Stephanie Sims.
Other students are just glad that there will be more living space on campus.
“New dorms will be good because with triples and such, two is company but three’s a crowd,” said junior Amy Sutphin.
Laura Rehbehn, also a junior, agreed.
“I think it’d be excellent if all students were able to be in doubles or singles,” said Rehbehn, who has lived in both a triple and a quad during her time at UMW.  “It’s asking a lot of students to put them in a small room with more than one other person for a year.”
According to the U.S. News & World Report Web site, the percentage of college-owned, operated, or affiliated housing units that are triples or suites at UMW is seven percent.
After hearing the news about the addition of new buildings to the campus, many hoped that this would mean updates for older buildings as well.
“With new halls, maybe we’d have the opportunity to do some work on our older facilities that we have been unable to do,” Porter said.
In his August 2006 State of the University speech, Frawley said, “We need new student residences that are multifunctional, with computer labs, workout rooms, wireless coffee houses, classrooms, and faculty apartments.”
With no immediate plans for construction or extensive remodeling, UMW students will have to wait to see if on-campus dorms will live up to Frawley’s standards.