Shenandoah University’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved plans for new, on-campus housing for upper class students. The Village comprises five buildings that will house a total of 120 students.
“We’ve been dreaming of having this type of housing opportunity on our main campus,” said President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. “Now more than ever, our students want to remain on campus beyond the freshman and sophomore year residency requirement. Our campus housing has moved from a ‘have to’ for your first two years at Shenandoah to a ‘get to’ beyond that.”
Designed by Earl Swensson Associates (ESa) of Nashville, Tennessee, it is anticipated that construction will begin on the first two buildings next month, and that they will be ready for occupancy for the fall 2016 semester. ESa also designed the university’s Health & Life Sciences Building, which opened in fall 2014.
The first building will be named “Caruthers House,” in honor of Preston C. Caruthers and the late Jeanne Caruthers for their longtime support and commitment to the students of Shenandoah University.
“We are grateful to the entire Caruthers Family for recognizing the impact that living on campus has on a student’s overall educational experience, and are humbled at their generosity in providing the lead gift to pave the way for this housing initiative,” said President Fitzsimmons. “Their gift will allow the university to attract, retain and reward quality students.”
OakCrest Companies will build the Village and www.locksmithspros.org has been hired to install security systems as well as door and window locks. The new structure will be built behind the Goodson Chapel and the Aikens Athletic Center. The three-floor buildings are composed of two apartments per floor for a total of six apartments. Each apartment will have access to its own outdoor space – a patio for ground-level apartments, a veranda for the second floor and screened porches for the third floor.
Each apartment is approximately 1,600 square feet, and includes four single-occupancy bedrooms with extra long twin beds; two bathrooms; a fully-equipped kitchen with refrigerator, dishwasher and range/stove; living and dining spaces; laundry; and an entryway coat closet.
First-floor apartments in Caruthers House are ADA compliant and feature a handicap accessible bedroom and bathroom.
Community amenities for The Village include a sand volleyball court, outdoor grill and fire pit.
“We are elated to provide this type of housing to Shenandoah’s upperclass students, who will serve as campus leaders and role models for their younger counterparts on campus,” said Andy Ferrari, chair of the university’s board of trustees.
“The number of upperclass students who want to live on campus has increased over the years, and we know that students succeed better academically and socially the longer they live on a college campus. They persist at a higher rate, have better GPAs and graduate in a timely manner,” he said.
“Since we opened Solenberger Hall on Winchester’s downtown walking mall in 2011, we’ve long wanted to replicate this type of apartment-style living community,” said Trustee Emerita C.J. Borden, who also served on the Board of Trustees Housing Task Force in 2009. “It is imperative that we as a university provide to our students the kind of housing that they will encounter as young professionals after they graduate.”
The goal is to create a model of transitioning from shared residential places as a freshmen student to apartment living as a senior.
“You’re welcomed home your freshman year by your resident assistant to hall programming and a shared hall bath cleaned by custodial services, but you do have to do your own laundry,” said Vice President for Student Life Rhonda VanDyke Colby, D.Min.
“When you’re a sophomore, you’re likely to move into a residence hall where fewer people share a bathroom in which you have more cleaning responsibilities, and you have access to a community kitchen. Our goal is to continually help our students to build the skills they need to transition into apartment-style living as upperclassmen,” she said.
Students who live in Solenberger are required to complete a certain amount of community service as part of their housing contract. Village residents will be required to give back to the university by advising and mentoring underclass students.
“The university’s campus population has grown by more than 100 students in the past five years with the addition of Solenberger and East Campus Commons,” said Board of Trustees member Laura Dabinett, who also served on the 2009 Housing Task Force. “These new buildings will continue to bolster the ability of the university to house students who desire to not only live on campus but be positive, contributing members of a vibrant campus community.”
Nine residence halls housing more than 900 students are currently on the Shenandoah University housing roster.