Assistant Director of Residence Life Amber Perrell said that residence life expected growth in this year’s freshman class as a result of the five new sports teams added to the university this semester. However, she says, they were not expecting the additional growth that occurred as a result of improved recruiting tactics by the admissions team.
Residence life has been putting to action plans to cope with the unanticipated spike in admissions since last semester.
Around the time of housing sign-ups last spring, rising juniors were sent emails offering them the opportunity to enter a lottery to void their housing contract and move off-campus a year early. Normally, students don’t have the option to live off-campus until their senior year.
Over the summer, students were sent emails offering opportunities to take rooms in Wireman for reduced cost. The caveat was that they had to move into a room that was traditionally a single with a roommate or move into a room that was traditionally a double with two roommates. Students could also choose to move into the new triples and quads on the first floor of Barnhardt.
The housing team kept the increase in enrollment in mind while renovating residence halls over the summer. Originally, Barnhardt was planned to only have 79 beds, said Perrell. Now, Barnhardt houses 111 beds for students. This was accomplished in large part because of renovations of the first floor that turned meeting spaces into suites designed to house four students.
The first floor of Hall-Brown Overcash was also renovated to include four-person suites, said Perrell. The result of the renovations to Barnhardt and HBO have turned both dorms into mix-class dorms that house both freshmen and upperclassmen. Perrell said this is a temporary fix, as there are future plans to make one of the dorms freshmen only and make the other strictly for upperclassmen.
When residence life realized they had the time and money to renovate only one of the dorms between Albright and Barnhardt this summer, said Perrell, they ended up choosing Albright because it could house more students.
The residence life team is unlikely to be caught by surprise like this again. Perrell said they expect next year’s freshman class to be a similar size to this one and are planning based on that expectation.