For NU campus, a remarkable makeover

I would like to use this forum to give you a brief update on the Board of Trustees meeting in Dallas on Jan. 17-20.

The Board of Trustees meets twice a year on campus – once in the spring and once in the fall.  Each January the Board also convenes at a remote location for a retreat-style gathering to discuss important issues in a less structured setting. The Dallas meeting was a retreat format to discuss several topics. One of the primary issues weighed was whether or not to move forward building the second phase of the student housing project as outlined in our NU2019 strategic plan.

My initial recommendation to the Board of Trustees was to delay a decision on the construction of dorm II until January 2014, because of economic uncertainties. The Board spent a good portion of the two-day meeting analyzing the benefits and risks of beginning construction in 2013 or delaying for a year.

There was concern that if we wait too long to build this dorm the construction costs may rise substantially. It was also agreed that this is an excellent time to borrow money for the project. The Board overwhelmingly felt we should move forward immediately.

Designs have already been created for the building and permits have been obtained. In addition, when we built South Hall the infrastructure was put in place for the future phases of the housing complex, so this will be a less expensive dormitory to build. We are anticipating that construction will cost $25.9 million.

The Board instructed us to go out to bid on the new construction. In the next few weeks we will determine if the construction prices come in as we have estimated, and whether or not we are able to borrow the money necessary to build the dorm.

After bids are in and the financing information is obtained, the Board will vote again on March 14 to reaffirm their initial decision. I will notify the Norwich community as soon as this vote is taken to let you know of their decision.

If we proceed with construction, the building will be completed and ready for occupancy in the fall of 2014. The new dorm will help us to decompress on-campus housing.  We will be able to move all the civilian students from Crawford Hall to the new facility and restore all the lounges to their original purposes as lounges, eliminating quads and converting triple rooms to doubles. It will also create 183 empty beds that we will fill over the period of three years with new students.

Never in my time at Norwich have we had so many projects being done simultaneously to improve the campus facilities. Along with the construction of the dorm, the Sabine Field renovation, and the construction of the wood chip heating plant, we will begin a major Dodge Hall renovation in the late spring. I am confident that we will get all of these projects done as anticipated and on schedule. Once completed, together they will transform the landscape of Norwich to our benefit.

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