Dorm expenses to rise for fall

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Students living on campus will pay an average of about 2 percent more for their housing this fall.

The University’s Board of Trustees approved increasing room rates at its meeting Friday, with increases ranging from $40 per semester for a basic double room to $90 per semester for a “super single.”

“We are doing our best to keep the rates as low as possible,” said trustee David Levey. “The aggregate is just a little above 2 percent. I think that puts us in a good position in Ohio with our peers.”

Laundry and technology fees of $145, which were previously charged separately to students, will now be combined with room rates on students’ bills.

Meal plan rates, however, will not increase for the upcoming academic year.

Chief Financial Officer Sheri Stoll said it is unusual to not have an increase in meal plan prices, but the University has had higher revenues and lower expenses than anticipated since contracting with Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services in 2010.

Student initiatives on campus also helped keep costs low through water and food waste-reduction efforts, including “going trayless” in dining halls, Stoll said.

“Dining Services has benefited greatly from our students’ effort and we are very proud of what they accomplished,” she said. “We would not have been able to maintain our current board plan rates without their involvement.”

The trustees also approved three capital improvement projects at the meeting — an extensive renovation to McDonald Hall, upgrades to Kreischer Quadrangle and renovations to the Falcon’s Nest and Black Swamp Pub in the Union.

The improvements will cost $9.3 million, $2 million and $4 million, respectively, Stoll said.

Steve Krakoff, associate vice president for Capital Planning and Design, said the residence hall upgrades will keep McDonald and Kreischer modernized, so they can remain low-cost housing options for students for “at least an additional 10 years.”

McDonald’s renovations will relocate its main entrance to its east side, on North College Street, according to the meeting agenda. They will also improve bathrooms, common spaces, safety systems and wired and wireless Internet.

“We’ll be doing a lot of things inside … so it will look noticeably different,” Krakoff said. “While it won’t look like a brand new building, it will represent substantial improvement over the current condition.”

The Kreischer upgrades will also improve Internet access, as well as electricity and fire safety precautions.

Both projects will be completed during the summers of 2012 and 2013.

During the meeting, Levey questioned the time frame for the Union renovations, which are slated for completion this fall.

Plans include expanding the Falcon’s Nest and behind-the-scenes food preparation areas, relocating the game room and computer lab, and enhancing the Black Swamp Pub, according to the meeting agenda. The Pub could be used during the day to replace The Greenery, located on the Union’s second floor.

“I don’t want to say ‘rushed,’ because that’s the wrong word, but we’re so methodical about our planning,” Levey said. “Is the timing right? I guess my question is, ‘why now?’”

Because the University’s contract with Wendy’s expires in May, a priority is completing the renovations while implementing a new food option in its location, Stoll said.

“We don’t want to leave that space vacant,” Stoll said. “Because we haven’t completed our student survey, we haven’t yet finalized the branded food concept that will replace it, but we can include in floor plan where we envision different food options to be located.”

Also at the meeting, the trustees approved a six-year capital plan for fiscal years 2013-2018 and changing the name of the University’s Bachelor of Science in Technology degree to Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology.