March 28, 2003
The University of Maine System Board of Trustees have given University of Maine at Fort Kent campus officials the go-ahead to proceed with plans to construct a new 150-bed residence hall facility that would be ready for occupancy by students in the Fall of 2004.
The $7 million project will be funded through a University of Maine System bond that will be paid back with revenue from housing fees of students who occupy the new building.
When complete the residence hall's 150 beds will more than double the existing on-campus student housing available at UMFK.
Demand for a new student housing facility has become more evident in the past five years as the university has enjoyed significant enrollment growth. In the fall of 2002, UMFK had a record number of traditional, first-year students entering and seeking on-campus student housing.
Additional and more creative programming by residence life staff has resulted in an annual student retention rate averaging 80 percent over the past few years in the two current residence halls. That situation has led to difficulties in accommodating first-year students who are traditionally looking for a residential experience.
'Enrollment at UMFK is continuing to grow and so is interest in living on campus. More students are looking for a small campus environment where we can provide personal attention and support and you can live as part of a small academic community,' said UMFK President Richard Cost. 'The exposure that we anticipate from the Biathlon World Cup next March is going to increase campus and community visibility dramatically and will result in an even larger demand for student housing.'
The proposed site of the building is adjacent to the University SportsCenter on UMFK property behind Paradis Shop-n-Save, which is on the opposite side of Pleasant Street from the main campus.
Incorporated into the design will be a number of suite-style arrangements, and air conditioning in part of the building to accommodate for expanded summer programming at the university. An 80-space parking lot would be constructed behind the facility.
'Our current residence halls were built in the 1960's and we need to provide facilities for our students more in keeping with student expectations today,' said Cost. 'We are grateful to the University of Maine System Trustees for recognizing this need and for voting to support this project. It is truly symbolic of the evolving excitement surrounding this community and this region.'
Cost added, 'The word is getting out ' This is a great place to live and study.'
The UMFK leader has set a goal for the campus to grow the student body to 1,000, with approximately half of the students housed in residence.
Currently, the university is home to two residence hall facilities with space for 125 students.
Crocker Hall was originally constructed in 1961, as a two-story, women's dormitory. In 1969, a one-story, thirty bed addition was constructed.
Powell Hall was constructed as a men's dormitory in 1965 and houses approximately 70 students. Today both facilities are co-educational residence halls.
Planning and construction for the new UMFK residence hall is on fast-track. The facility will be design-build, meaning the architect and engineer proposal is presented to the university in a single package.
University and system officials will be meeting in the coming weeks to review proposals from a number of firms and to select the one that best addresses UMFK specifications and requirements.
Construction of the new facility will be held during the coming year and will coincide with UMFK's 125th Anniversary Celebration.