LARAMIE — A 10-year housing plan — in development for the past several months and now finished — recommends the University of Wyoming tear down two of its residence halls and heavily renovate the four remaining “traditional towers.”
The UW Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss the housing plan for two hours during its meeting Thursday. Vice President for Student Affairs Sean Blackburn said he hopes the board votes to approve the plan.
All told, if the board moves forward with every aspect, the total price tag could come to $245.4 million. The board is not, however, required to act on every suggestion outlined in the plan.
“It really is laying that groundwork for the next decade for where we need to go and what it should generally look like,” he said. “And we obviously have the option as we go along to adjust the plan, given enrollment numbers and other things going on at the university and in the state.”
The plan makes a number of suggestions, divided into three phases — the first of which involves demolishing Crane and Hill halls and replacing them with suite-style residences.
Phase I is estimated to cost $118 million.
“This plan has the potential to dramatically improve our recruitment of students and to improve the quality of the student experience in those buildings,” Blackburn said. “What we don’t have in our current inventory are those more modern suite-style facilities.
“So, incoming students only have the choice of the traditional halls.”
Phase II calls for a $40.3 million renovation of White and McIntyre halls, while Phase III calls for renovations of White and Downey halls, as well as street improvements, costing collectively $38.1 million-$55.4 million.
“The four traditional towers will be a much improved student experience, better lighting, better restrooms, less density, more common space,” Blackburn said. “We’ll bring amenities out of the basement and up onto the floors, so you won’t have to go to the basement to do laundry anymore. There will be more communal kitchens in some of the traditional halls.”
Independent of the phases, the housing plan suggests renovating campus apartments, Washakie Dining Hall and Greek housing.
UW paid KSQ Design $290,930 to craft the 108-page Housing Master Plan, which included an extensive study of current student opinion on current residential options at the university. ASUW, the student government, paid $60,000 of this figure in a demonstration of support.
The plan hopes to offer a wider range — and higher quality — of housing options than what is currently available to students.
“Among the goals of the Master Plan are to create more opportunities for social and co-curricular activities on UW’s campus to provide students alternatives to venturing off-campus for socializing opportunities and to incentivize students to remain in on-campus housing past their freshman year,” the plan states.
Blackburn said more varied housing options will help recruit first-time students — who can already find suite-style housing at competing universities — as well as keep older students in student-housing longer.
“The hope is that incoming students will have the traditional halls — as well as more modern suite-style facilities — and then sophomores, juniors and seniors would also have the option of the apartment inventory,” Blackburn said. “We will have a better layout of options and different prices for those options, as well.”
Replacing or updating UW’s residence halls — each currently more than 50 years old — through the next decade will aid in the university’s wider goal of boosting enrollment, Blackburn said.
“From my vantage point, it’s going to be a giant leap forward in terms of the students’ residential experience by the end of the decade,” he said. “And we’ll be more competitive for enrollments in the region. Students will have better amenities and students will stay on campus longer.”