Midland University is building a new residence hall, replacing its currently existing Men’s Memorial Hall, the university announced on Thursday.
The roughly $10 million project is expected to begin construction in early spring of 2019, and is expected to be completed by 2020. The new 98-bed facility will house sophomores, with the current class of high school seniors expected to be the first to call the new residence hall home.
The project was spurred on in part by student feedback, said Merritt Nelson, vice president of enrollment management and marketing. The Men’s Memorial Hall was built in 1947 and its “shelf life was getting close to the end” — something that Nelson said the administration was aware of and was echoed in student surveys.
“For the last several years, we started to hear from our students that it was time to start looking at replacing Men’s Hall,” Nelson said. “Trends have changed in higher ed residential living, and we need to stay with those trends and even be ahead of those trends a little bit.”
The university conducted “market research” and spoke with experts as well as students to determine how to approach addressing its housing situation, Nelson said.
Nelson added that the school consulted with architects on the new project, who all recommended replacing Men’s Hall as opposed to renovating it.
“The cost would have been about the same,” he said.
The new building, which will be called Miller Hall and will be located directly on the footprint of Men’s Memorial Hall, aims to update the quality of housing on campus, not the quantity. There is enough capacity on campus, Nelson said, and so the new residence hall will have roughly the same capacity as the current building.
The hall will be a sophomore, co-ed residence and will emphasize “social engagement to help students build relationships and make connections that foster their academic success,” according to a press release from the university. It will feature suite-style living with a majority of students having a private bedroom and shared bathroom, kitchen and living room, depending on the floor plan.
It will include several ADA compliant suites, as well as student lounges, study rooms and laundry facilities on each floor. The main floor will include kitchen facilities, a fireplace, an outdoor patio, meeting spaces and a residence hall director suite and office.
While the overall capacity won’t change, the usage will: Men’s Memorial Hall is currently operating at roughly two-thirds of its full capacity, with some rooms being taken offline by the university.
“Some of the rooms are just very cold and not inviting,” Nelson said of those rooms.
All 98 beds in the new facility will be available for use.
Students currently living in Men’s Hall will likely be moved into other housing arrangements within the next month or two in order to prepare for demolition, which could happen as soon as February, Nelson said. As the project advances and the residence hall is offline, Nelson acknowledges that there could be temporary space issues.
“We’re going to be tight; we do have halls designated by class right now,” he said. “At this point, we’re going to have to send freshman into some sophomore halls and move some people around and possibly even disrupt some roommate situations. I know there are some students on campus who don’t have a roommate right now, and they’ll probably get one. It’s all part of residential living and living in a community and we think there’s growth to be had in a transition like this, especially when there’s an exciting end.”
The project’s cost will have no adverse effect on tuition and is being funded through fundraising, Nelson said, with the lead gift coming from the future residence hall’s namesake donors, James W. Miller and Donna Miller.
The project is part of a larger, $50 million investment that the school is making to upgrade the “student experience” on campus. Other investments include a new common space on the first floor of the Olson Student Center, which was finished earlier this year; updates to dining spaces on campus; and additional academic programs.
“There’s still a couple other capital projects that are next after Men’s Hall that we’ll be announcing in the next six months to a year,” Nelson said.