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Growing enrollment brings dorm building boom

As student populations rise, residence halls are going up at the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa.

By LINDA GIBSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000


TAMPA -- As the 2000-01 school year begins, the city's two university campuses are in the midst of a building boom, putting up residence halls as fast as they can.

The new housing is needed to keep pace with a steady increase in enrollment at both schools the past several years.

Admissions to the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa continue to climb.

At USF, a record number of 11,100 students applied for admission to the school's freshman class this fall, which has room for 3,400.

Freshman enrollment at the University of Tampa is up 25 percent over last year, to 791 students, said UT spokesman Grant Donaldson. Neither school will know for sure how many freshman they have until students actually show up.

Both universities renovated or opened new residence halls the past two years, and both plan to open more this year and next.

At USF, the $25-million Holly Apartments complex opened Aug. 5 for 725 students. It is the first new residence hall at USF in 17 years, but it won't be the last. In August 2001, the $16-million Magnolia Apartments will open for 500 graduate students and their families.

At UT, Brevard Hall has opened to 460 juniors and seniors. It's a nine-story, $13-million building with brick facing and a roof line designed to echo some elements of the campus' historic Plant Hall.

The new halls were built to make on-campus living as attractive as possible. Parents who remember what used to be called dorm rooms won't believe the difference.

On both campuses, every student in the newest residence halls will have Internet access and cable television.

Students at Holly Apartments will live four to an apartment consisting of a furnished living room, kitchen, four bedrooms and two bathrooms. To enhance privacy and security, students will have keys to their own bedroom and a card that allows them into the building.

The seven-building USF complex includes community facilities such as laundries, a computer lab, study hall, post office and events room. One building was set up especially for the football team, with partitions so the offense and defense can huddle separately during team meetings.

At UT, Brevard's common areas include a laundry, computer lab, study area, lounge and kitchen. Students will have their own bedrooms and share a living room and bathroom.

Next year, UT expects to open Vaughan Hall, financed by a $28-million donation from John Sykes of Sykes Enterprises and named after UT President Ronald Vaughan.

In addition to rooms for 440 students, Vaughan Hall also will have a student center and a conference facility. The student center will include a cafeteria that seats 800 and a theater for movies, concerts and dances.

The conference facility, on the hall's ninth floor, will be able to hold up to 500 people for campus or community events.

As fast as both schools are building more housing, they still have hundreds more students seeking campus housing than they can accommodate.

At USF, housing administrators are making arrangements with an off-campus apartment complex just across the street from the campus.

At the University of Tampa, the overflow goes into a nearby Holiday Inn. As many as 250 students will spend at least the fall semester there, getting shuttled to and from the campus, enjoying the hotel's swimming pool and twice-weekly maid service.

"We have a full complement of residence life staff there," said UT spokesman Grant Donaldson.

Cushy as that sounds, some of the students at the hotel would prefer to be in on-campus housing, he said.

- Linda Gibson can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or at gibson@sptimes.com.

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