On Nov. 16, Shenandoah University broke ground on The Village, a new on-campus housing initiative that, when all is said and done, will comprise five buildings and house a total of 120 students.
“If ever a complex had academic excellence and completion at its heart, this is it,” said Vice President for Student Life Rhonda VanDyke Colby, D.Min. “As they approach graduation, Village residents will be in closer proximity to their professors who once scared them to death at their first class, but are now mentors, and colleagues, and in some cases, friends.”
During the ceremony, university officials and special guests turned over the first shovel of dirt on Caruthers House, the first building to be constructed in The Village. Caruthers House is named in honor of Preston C. Caruthers and the late Jeanne Caruthers for their longtime support and commitment to the students of Shenandoah University.
President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., emphasized that these plans have been a long time coming, and told the story of a phone call that Preston Caruthers made shortly after Christmas a few years ago.
“He said that he wanted to make a major gift to the university, because he knew we were talking about how much we needed housing — the kind of housing that students were describing,” said Dr. Fitzsimmons. “And that was just a fabulous Christmas gift.”
Four generations of the Caruthers family were in at the event, with Preston Caruthers and his son, Stephen, addressing the crowd. Stephen Caruthers is a past member of the Shenandoah University board of trustees.
“It’s such an honor to be here today,” said Preston Caruthers. “I hope that the school will continue to grow, as I see it is, in being a wonderful educational institution for Virginians and whomever else may come along.”
Designed by Earl Swensson Associates (ESa) of Nashville, Tennessee, it is anticipated that construction on Caruthers House, as well as a second building, will begin this month. Caruthers House is slated to open in August 2016, with the second building ready for occupancy in late fall 2016.
“Juniors and seniors will have more access to professors, to activities on Shenandoah University’s campus, and there will really be more of a presence of upperclassmen at Shenandoah University,” said Student Government Association President Daniel Hillgren.
“This is a complex, a Village, not only for finishing strong but for paying it forward,” said Dr. Colby. “Our students here know that many sacrificed to bring them to this place — their parents, other family members, donors who provide scholarships — and it’s time for them, then, to take that on and pay that forward. Even as a part of the competitive application process to live in The Village, students will have to tell us how they plan on paying it forward to those younger students who follow them.”
The Village will be constructed by OakCrest Companies and will be located behind 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.