UW officials have hit the reset button on a proposal for a dorm at the UW-Rock County campus.
At a meeting Wednesday, UW-Colleges Southwest Regional Executive Officer and Dean Charles Clark told an audience of about 30 people the process to build student housing on or near campus was starting over, and options for “everything” were on the table.
That “everything” included location, size and whether any student housing would be built in the first place.
Clark started his presentation by reviewing the previous plans for a dorm.
In late 2013, the Rock County Board agreed to donate land to the Rock County Foundation so that organization could build a dorm. That project never got off the ground, and the county kept the land.
The foundation is no longer involved in dorm development, Clark said.
If a dorm were to be built, a private developer would build it and another would run it.
Martin Rudd, regional executive officer and dean for the UW Colleges northwest region talked about his schools experience with student housing.
Rudd oversees UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley and UW-Manitowoc.
In Fond du Lac, student housing run by Madison-based property management firm BMOC will be available this fall.
At UW-Fox Valley in Menasha, two phases of a three-phase dormitory development have been completed. The college hopes to have 150 beds to offer students.
Eight of the 13 two-year UW Colleges have student housing, said Steve Wildeck, vice chancellor for administration and finance for UW Colleges and UW Extension.
He sees great potential for student housing at UW-Rock County and at UW-Sheboygan.
They are both located within driving distance of several metropolitan areas that would be great recruiting grounds for the two-year schools.
UW-Rock County could also draw from northern Illinois. Out-of-state tuition at UW-Rock County would be cheaper than in-state tuition at an Illinois state school, Clark said.
Privately run student housing at UW-Richland and elsewhere also draws international students eager to get into UW-Madison.
In addition, if there was room, the dorm could provide housing for students commuting to Blackhawk Technical College.
Blackhawk would be interested in partnering with UW-Rock County to provide student housing, said Katie Lange, Blackhawk enrollment coordinator.
Dean Paynter, a Janesville resident who has been auditing courses at UW-Rock County, said dorms were “the thing that’s missing on the campus.” The chance to be “shoulder to shoulder” with international students was another advantage.
Cheryl Granlund wasn’t so sure. She lives at the corner of Garden Drive and Roosevelt Avenue, right next to campus. She was concerned about the impact on the rest of the neighborhood. The dorms could lead to more area homes becoming student rentals, leading to an overall decline in property values. Student behavior was also a concern.
Students living in on- or off-campus dorms would be subject to school sanctions and sanctions from the private company running the dorms, said Associate Dean Kristin Fillhouer.
Clark stressed again that although he was in favor of the dorm, no decision had been made. He laid out a timeline for the decision:
- July to October 2017: Consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will redo a housing study that was last done in 2012-13.
- Fall 2017: A UW housing committee will be formed, and input from faculty, staff and students will be sought.
- After October: The results of the housing study will be shared with the public.
- Throughout 2017-18: UW-Rock County staff and the Rock County Board will continue to gather community input.
Clark said he hopes to have a decision on whether or not to pursue student housing by the end of the 2017-18 school year.