University expansion

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Southeast Missouri State University has a good problem: More students want to attend the university than the current on-campus housing can handle.

This past summer, Southeast finalized a plan to defer admissions for students living outside a 50-mile radius of Cape Girardeau, and wanting to attend school this fall, until the spring 2012 semester.

Recently the university's board of regents gave unanimous consent for the administration to seek architectural and engineering services contracts for a new residence hall. The residence hall will be north of the polytechnic building at the main campus. The five-story hall with parking will have 250 beds, and the tentative completion date is set for fall of 2013. Two resolutions were approved expressing the university's intent to issue bonds that would cover $26.75 million in construction costs.

In addition to the new residence hall, two other options are being studied to provide more student housing.

University officials were given approval by the regents to enter an architectural and engineering services contract for a Greek Village master plan and utility needs assessment. Southeast owns the land the housing would be on, but financing for construction would not come from the university.

A market study for a hotel on university-owned property on Fountain Street was previously requested by the university foundation, and the plan was determined to be feasible. With requests for proposals from developers set to be released in November and expected back in the spring, the hotel potentially could be finished as early as the fall of 2013.

Southeast has gained a strong reputation among prospective students, and the need for more on-campus housing is evident. However, one contributing factor that has led many students to Southeast -- especially considering how overwhelming student loans can be -- is the university's relatively low cost of attendance. If Southeast can provide more on-campus housing for students while also keeping the cost of education affordable, it will be a win-win situation for the university, our community and students.

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