WVU Announces Closure of Residential Complex Arnold Hall
The West Virginia University Board of Governors voted Friday afternoon to shut down Arnold Hall and Apartments, one of its older residence halls, and to add beds to University Place, a public-private apartment that the university has been struggling to fill.
No employees will be fired and no students will be displaced as a result of the Arnold Hall closure.
During the meeting on Friday, Rob Alsop, WVU vice president for legal, government and entrepreneurial engagement, acknowledged that the the cost of construction for University Place exceeded expectations, and that the building is only 46 percent filled to capacity for the current academic year.
The repurposed space in University Place will be called Seneca Hall. It would be the most expensive residence offered by WVU, with prices starting at $4,100 per bed per semester.
Alsop said that low-cost residential options would continue to be available to students who need them.
"Those students who were looking for low cost options and were thinking about Arnold will have options on the Evansdale or Downtown campus to do that," he said. "And those who want more amenities and can pay for that will have Seneca Hall. We're not forcing anyone to move. There will be plenty of low cost options, we think, for those students."
He added that private-public partnerships help stimulate the local economy and reduce the debt on the university's side.
"For public and private partnerships, what we do is, the private sector either takes on that debt or equity to put money into a project, so they bring that benefit to the table, and then we bring the ability for student housing," he said. "Another thing is, in the area of Sunnyside where this was located, there was some more rundown housing, and we think we stimulated a number of activities to reinvigorate that part of Sunnyside."
Dean of Students Corey Farris said he did not foresee any trouble filling Seneca Hall to capacity.
"The types of beds that we're putting online in Seneca Hall are filling first. Those are private bedrooms and private bathrooms, where they're not sharing them with 20 other people on the floor," he said.
Before the vote, WVU President E. Gordon Gee stressed that student housing should be seen as an experience that would help the university recruit and retain students.
One board member, Taunja Willis Miller, abstained from voting.
10:28 p.m. Jan. 27, 2015. A line was added to clarify that space in University Place would be repurposed to become Seneca Hall.