Smith and Adams halls will temporarily close for at least the 2012-13 school year as part of the university’s budget realignment plan, which was announced before Thanksgiving break.
In a meeting with faculty and staff on Nov. 17, Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, presented the far-reaching plan to save the university budget nearly $10 million. As a part of that plan, the only off-campus resident halls will shut down.
Schubert said that since the current freshmen enrollment and future enrollment projections are lower than in previous years, the decision to close Smith and Adams Halls made the most logical sense.
“We’d rather have students in resident halls that are physically on campus,” Schubert said. “We had already decided that in the event that enrollment trends allowed us to take a dorm off-line, it would be Smith-Adams.”
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president and dean for student life, said the decision was purely based on strategy and efficiency.
“We realize that most communities become special to the students who live there, and we don’t feel see one hall as more or less important than another,” Thompson said. “We made this decision based on the numbers, strategically the pipeline of students coming in as sophomores.”
John Delony, director of Residence Life, said Angela Neal, the resident director of Smith and Adams halls, will expand her other role as assistant director of Residence Life.
“We’ll be increasing the administrative responsibilities she’ll have. She just won’t be over the halls, too,” Delony said.
The closing of Smith and Adams Halls will save the university about $350,000 next school year. Thompson said the move wasn’t just to save costs but also to be more efficient in sophomore housing.
“It makes sense strategically to close Smith-Adams because of the Halls’ distance from campus and gender balance,” he said. “We will have enough space in the rest of the residence halls on campus to house this year’s freshmen next year, and we expect community to grow since the class won’t be as spread out.”
The closing is only a temporary one, and Smith and Adams Halls could re-open as soon as the 2013-14 school year, Thompson said.
“We have to make strategic decisions based on student demand and freshman retention,” Thompson said. “We may decide that it’s time to re-open Smith-Adams.”
Thompson also said the other change to Residence Life outlined in the budget realignment plan is a reduction of desk manager hours across campus.
“A majority of the change, from a budget standpoint, is we’re backing off on some of the daytime hours desk managers will work,” he said. “We’ll still have a system that provides assistance and monitoring but not have students working desks every hour of every day.”