U’s Housing Services builds on basic mission

Kelly Wittman

Ron Campbell, associate vice president for Housing and Food Services, said he thinks his department can help build a stronger University community.
“I can’t physically house 30,000 people. I can’t have 30,000 beds, but I can reach out and touch 30,000 lives every day.”
Housing Services is changing, Campbell said. For the first time in 10 years, students this fall were able to eat in residence halls on the day they moved in rather than waiting until the following Thursday for their meal plans to kick in, he said.
Campbell promised further changes.
In addition to building an apartment-style dorm next to Sanford Hall, Housing Services is working with Dinnaken Properties, a subsidiary of Cargill Inc., on a residence hall to house the Residential College program. The program, which students enter in their freshman year, involves students living in the same building and taking classes together. Administrators hope this will foster successful academic performance and lead to a greater number of students completing their studies at the University.
The structure Dinnaken is building, Argyle House, will house many Residential College students beginning this fall and is located at 920 Delaware St.
Both the new apartments near Sanford Hall and the Argyle House were designed by the same firm — BRW Elness — under the direction of architect David Graham.
The University is also negotiating with Dunbar Development Corp. and Opus Corp. to build a private housing complex near Dinkytown. The University would use Housing Services to help assign rooms and offer residential life services.
The benefit of working in concert with companies such as Dinnaken Properties or Opus is that funds used to build the properties are not from the University, Campbell said. However, Housing Services will still encourage the University to build more of its own housing, he said.
The University shouldn’t be concerned about losing money because private companies own housing, Campbell said. The University has never seen a large profit from its housing, he said. Depreciation and running the hall take most of the money generated.
Corporations running housing for Universitystudents won’t see a huge profit either, Campbell said. But with the University handling resident services and with some tax benefits for the corporations, they should see some profit, he said.
But Campbell added that the University can’t fall blindly into negotiations with corporations. “Some may say this is a corporate takeover,” Campbell said, “but as long as we do it with careful consideration and it represents values consistent with the institution,” then it is a positive move for both parties.
The University’s main concern is education, said Marvin Marshak, coordinator of Residential College. Housing is not central to the University’s mission. In light of the institution’s current financial situation, he said, the University should concentrate its funds on academics instead of peripheral services.
Residential College students moving into Argyle House will have fully equipped kitchens with dishwashers, as well as computer facilities, ethernet adapters for non-modem Internet access and plenty of private study rooms.
Apartments in Argyle House will come fully furnished except for pots, pans and linens, said Vice President of Dinnaken Properties Yvonne Grosulak. Dinnaken House, located at 900 Washington Ave., had a waiting list last fall of more than 100 names.
Not all Residential College students will live in Argyle House, Marshak said. Of the 300 students entering Residential College next year, about 170 will live in Argyle House. The remainder, Marshak said, will live in Territorial Hall.
Argyle House will offer efficiency, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. A lease to share a bedroom will cost $320 per month. One-person rooms will cost $425 per month. Students can save money by signing a group lease for an entire apartment with four or five friends. The rent for a group lease is $300 per month to share a bedroom, or $405 per month for private bedrooms.
Marshak said he had no concerns about Dinnaken Properties running housing for University students.
Mary Ryan, director of Housing Services, said the next project for her department would be to build an East River Road housing site. Ryan said the University will probably have to borrow funds for the proposed residence hall.
Ryan said she hopes further housing projects can focus on the housing needs of older students or graduate students with families.
Housing availability makes a big difference in recruiting new students, said Wayne Sigler, director of admissions.
Sigler said he sees Argyle House as an asset to the University community, which includes Stadium Village and Dinkytown.
Campbell said he would like students to feel like the campus is moving outward to take in the areas surrounding campus.