SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Shepherd University broke ground on its new $22 million, five-story, residence hall project, during a ceremony held at the university Wednesday morning.
The hall located on the west side of campus, is planned to be built by Aug. 1, 2017.
The project consists of a public-private partnership model that creates a three-way partnership between Shepherd University, the Shepherd University Foundation and EdR, a real estate investment trust company that specializes in collegiate housing. EdR is based in Memphis, Tennessee.
President Dr. Mary Hendrix said this is the first time in Shepherd’s history that it has entered a public-private partnership agreement. Hendrix said she believes this was the right decision in financing and is happy about the willingness of all other entities involved to work collaboratively.
“This groundbreaking represents a milestone for Shepherd University and for our relationship with the Shepherd University Foundation. Shepherd’s more than half century partnership will the foundation, serves as a lasting reminder of all that is special about Shepherd,” Hendrix said.
“My late mother Jessie Hendrix, a longtime member of the foundation’s Board of Directors, would be so proud of this event and how the university and the foundation continue to expand and build upon our synergistic relationship in commitment to move Shepherd University forward,” Hendrix added.
The project will total over 81,000 square feet and has a preliminary budget estimate of at least $22 million, according to James Vigil, Shepherd’s vice president for administration and interim vice president of finance.
The financing of the project is coming from the United States Department of Agriculture. Vigil said the project is a part of the USDA rural development authority, where rural communities of 20,000 or less are provided with a loan in order to build and expand their communities for its needs.
In his speech, Tom Trubiana, president of EdR, said his company has more than 50 years of experience in the collegiate housing industry and has help build several housing facilities in the state and around the U.S. EdR’s purpose will be to oversee all aspects of the project including financing, design and construction.
The university has been working with Brailsford & Dunlavey of Washington, D.C., to conduct a study on its campus’s needs which has led to the plan for the new housing facility, according to Vigil.
According to the study, the university’s current housing assets are dated, the perceived value of on-campus housing is driving students off-campus and the types of units it offers does not accommodate the maturing student, Vigil said.
The university’s goal is to have 40 percent of its students live on campus and this new residence hall will help, Vigil said.
In this study, Shepherd found a current need for 290 beds, and the university said the hall will have a mix of single and double suite-style units for a total of 298 beds.
Hendrix said the building will be top of the line and will help increase student enrollment at the university.
“This new building represents a dramatic departure from the typical dorms many of us remember from our college days. The styling and amenities of this new facility will make Shepherd very attractive to prospective students and will help us in marketing the university to an international audience,” Hendrix said.
Amenities will include a food service and dining area, classroom, student lounges and study rooms with internet and Wi-Fi availability throughout the building.
Paul Hill, chancellor West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said although it hasn’t been an easy path for those in higher education and others in the state regarding funding, he believes now that a state budget has been finalized, Shepherd is an example of how to move forward despite those difficulties.
“As many of you know it’s been a long tough road over the last couple of months in Charleston with our state budget but we do have a balanced budget now for the coming year, and I think we can all look forward to moving forward with our activities within higher education,” Hill said.
“Even as we face those challenges, campuses must continue to advance themselves to better our students and they must do so innovatively. So that’s what Shepherd is doing here today with this new residence hall. You’re really looking outside the box and I commend you for that, and you’re looking to grow your campus in a way that makes students, faculty, alumni and this community very proud,” Hill added.
Staff writer Katiann Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182, or at twitter.com/KmarshallJN.