Fresno State may build new on-campus housing to replace the university's existing dorms, and could start seeking student input as soon as this semester.
Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Lamas said he envisions the new dorms as "signature buildings" in a future campus renovation.
The plans are in the earliest stages, Lamas said, but suites, singles and mixed-use buildings are possibilities to replace University Courtyard, the school's 1,100-bed dormitory.
Built in the 1960s, the existing dorms have good bones, according to Lamas, but they lack the modern amenities that on-campus housing at other universities can offer.
"If you love retro, they’re great,” Lamas said.
Updated housing is a priority for the university in order to attract more students who will choose to live on campus. Over half the students at Fresno State are locals, leading to the perception of the university as a commuter school, Lamas said.
But students who live in residence halls have higher grades and better graduation rates, according to Lamas.
“The initial transition as a freshman or sophomore is tough,” Lamas said. “On campus, there’s more touch points, more community, RA’s (resident advisers) to help.”
Lamas said the university hasn’t decided whether the existing buildings will be renovated or torn down altogether.
It’s possible that some of the buildings will be spared from demolition in order to provide students a housing option that costs less than the new dorms.
Currently, on-campus housing and dining plans range from about $8,000 to $12,000 for an academic year.
A new building could feature some of the amenities of Palazzo, the privately run student apartments located on land owned by Fresno State. There, rates range from $395 to $995 per month for fully furnished apartments that come with DVRs, washers and dryers, two refrigerators in each four-room suite and a host of recreational opportunities at the complex, such as racquetball.
Over 60 percent of Fresno State students receive Pell Grants to help with the costs of tuition and living expenses. The maximum award for the last school year was $5,920.
Lamas said another idea would be to build mixed-use facilities, with convenience stores and dining options on the lower level, and student housing on upper levels.
Lamas said it’s possible that the university ultimately ends up with fewer than 1,100 beds, leading to more demand.
The decision will take into account what students want, but will also be based on the university’s budget, according to Lamas.
"There's a difference between what you'd like to do and what you can afford to do," Lamas said.
The university is beginning a study to determine how much new housing would cost and how to pay for it.
New housing and dining areas would be part of an ongoing facelift for the campus, where students recently voted to build a new $60 million student union, paid for by a $149-per-semester student fee that will take effect once the building opens.
But if new dorms are built, they won't be funded through student fees, according to Vice President of Administration Deborah Adishian-Astone.
Instead, they will likely be paid for through a public-private partnership, with an outside party providing the financing while Fresno State operates the buildings. Another option is to fund the dorms through California State University systemwide bonds.