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Morgan State plans apartment-style dorms to address housing crunch

Students move into the residence halls at Morgan State University. (Submitted photo)

Students move into the residence halls at Morgan State University. (Submitted photo)

Morgan State University will work with the Maryland Economic Development Corp. to build an on-campus residence hall to address an expected increase in the student body, the university announced last week after the project was approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

The new building, projected to open in 2022 and to house 700 to 900 students, will bring apartment-style dorms to a university where many residence halls date to the 1960s and 1970s. Apartment-style dorms are amenities that students want, said Kevin Banks, the university’s vice president of student affairs.

“We will have a contemporary building on campus,” Banks said Monday. “Over a year ago we sat down with students, we did a whole campaign with them. We heard them, what they want. To be able to deliver on a facility that students have major input in I think is exciting.”

Enrollment growth has left Morgan State with an urgent need to add new beds for students. 

Last week, as students were moving in for the fall semester, some on the housing wait list were still hoping to find a spot. A lack of available on-campus housing has prompted the university to rent space off-campus to house 700 to 900 students.

Though the new dorm will help solve the current housing shortage, the university plans to continue increasing enrollment, with a goal of reaching 10,000 students by 2025. Last year’s fall enrollment was 7,712. About 2,400 of those students lived on campus.

An increasing graduate student population will fuel some of the enrollment growth, said Banks, who added that graduate students will be looking for different kinds of housing than undergraduates.

At the same time, he said, some students — and their parents — are interested in spending additional time in on-campus housing. Typically, students live on campus for their first two years and then move off campus for their junior and senior years. 

“We are in a major urban city and there are people that are concerned about their students living off-campus,” Banks said, citing worries about crime off campus.

In addition to creating space for new students, contemporary housing on campus could also make the university more competitive, Banks said.

“Students want suite-style arrangements. They want their own rooms,” he said. “Students, now they want eating facilities, workout facilities in their apartment-style facilities.”

The new residence hall could be just the first of several dormitory projects as the university’s enrollment grows, he said. 

It will not be just new buildings either, Banks said, adding that the university could also renovate existing residence halls.

Other future on-campus housing options could include living and learning communities, residence halls that incorporate classrooms.

The partnership with the Maryland Economic Development Corp., or MEDCO, a company created by the General Assembly to support capital projects, will be the second for the university. Morgan and MEDCO previously teamed up to build Morgan View, an off-campus apartment building that last year housed 775 students, including some graduate students.

MEDCO assumed ownership of the apartment building, along with responsibility for its financing, development and management.

With the new dormitory, Morgan can ask MEDCO to appoint a third-party management company to carry out day-to-day operations.

MEDCO also has been involved with residence hall projects at Bowie State University; the University of Maryland, College Park; Frostburg State University; Towson University; and UMBC.

Plans for Morgan’s new residence hall come amid increased development around the university. The $50 million Northwood Plaza redevelopment will raze the strip mall near campus and replace it with spaces for a Barnes & Noble, a Starbucks and university offices.

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