BANGOR, Maine — Husson University will add an $11 million, five-story living and learning center to its campus. The new structure, which will include dormitory suites for 240 students, experiential learning labs, classrooms and faculty offices, is expected to be completed in August 2012.
The new construction project was announced Tuesday at a news conference a day after the Husson board of trustees approved the proposal.
“As our enrollment continues to increase, this is the natural next step in our growth,” Richard Trott, chairman of the board of trustees and a Husson graduate, said at the news conference. “This multipurpose building will help not only with our housing shortage, but will fully enhance our campus life.”
Husson has grown from 1,000 students in 1996 to 3,000 this academic year, according to a news release about the project.
“The university spends about $500,000 a year on rent and utilities at nearby apartment complexes for about 100 students a year due to an on-campus housing shortage,” John Rubino, vice president of administration, said Tuesday.
In addition to the new building, a $4 million renovation of the Dickerman Dining Commons was announced. The 10,000-square-foot expansion of the building will include a new kitchen and service area. The redesigned dining room will add food stations and seating.
Over the past decade, the dining commons has gone from serving 200,000 to 300,000 meals per year, the release stated.
Renovations to the dining hall are expected to be completed by August 2011, when the fall semester begins.
Work on both buildings is scheduled to begin in April, Husson President Robert Clark said.
“The construction will be paid for over time from student room and board fees and through fundraising efforts,” he said.
Students are excited about the suite-style living quarters, each of which will include two bedrooms, a combined living and study area and a private bathroom. Each suite is designed to be occupied by two students, Husson sophomore Matthew Teague, 19, of Newton, N.H., said.
Teague, a chemistry major, is the student representative to the board of trustees.
“I think this building is a great opportunity for students,” he said. “It provides a different kind of living than we have now — straight dorm rooms with little space and shared bathrooms and showers.”
While the living suites will occupy the top four floors, the first floor will include experiential learning classrooms dedicated to specific academic programs, Clark said. The College of Business would have a space to allow students to conduct simulated board meetings and Web-based team analysis. Students in the legal studies program will be able to “investigate” mock crime scene scenarios.
“We are excited to be able to expand on our ability to provide this state-of-the-art experiential and learning center to further enhance program development in areas such as business and criminal justice,” said Lynne Coy-Ogden, Husson provost. “Just as students in our school of nursing have access to cutting-edge simulated lab facilities, these spaces will allow our faculty in other disciplines to have their own dedicated experiential learning environments.”
The center may be the first of its kind in Maine, Rubino said. A similar facility opened at the University of Hartford in Connecticut about three years ago.
The architect for the project is Winton Scott Architects of Portland. The contractor is Allied Cook of Scarborough.
The project is expected to employ many local subcontractors and construction workers, Clark said.