A new dormitory under construction will allow the University of South Carolina Beaufort to house more of its growing student population on its Hilton Head Gateway Campus next fall.
The university also is negotiating the purchase of property that would let it begin offering student housing on the Historic Beaufort Campus later this year, said Doug Oblander, vice chancellor for student development.
USCB has grown by an average of 11 percent every year since it became accredited to grant baccalaureate degrees in 2004. The university now serves about 1,600 students on the two campuses.
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The $6 million project on the Hilton Head Gateway Campus will house 188 students in two buildings, Oblander said.
The existing campus housing complex, Palmetto Village, was built for about 270 students but holds a few more because some students share single rooms, he said.
The university has worked with Courtney Bend apartments across U.S. 278 to provide additional student housing near the campus as it outgrew Palmetto Village, which opened in 2005. Still, some transfer students were denied university housing this year because of space constraints, Oblander said.
Oblander hopes the new complex will allow all resident students to be near the dining hall and fitness equipment in the Campus Center that opened in 2009.
"We're excited to have all our students living in one location where we can provide them with the services we want and a sense of community," added Deonne Whaley, director of student housing.
Oblander expects the dorms to be near capacity when they open, as enrollment grows and students move back from Courtney Bend. The university will add two sports teams next fall -- women's soccer and softball -- which means more student athletes will need on-campus housing, he said.
Filling the dorms will be important because proceeds from students' rent will pay for the building's construction and operation, Oblander said
The new dorms will be similar to the existing buildings, he said. Each suite-style apartment includes four single bedrooms and two bathrooms around a living area and kitchen. A washer and dryer is included, as well as phone, Internet and cable services.
Oblander said the university is negotiating to buy a large house near the Beaufort campus and convert it to housing for 15 to 17 students. Plans are not final, but the university would like to provide some student housing by next fall, he said.
Oblander wouldn't provide additional details because negotiations are under way.
USCB received approval in 2009 to offer a four-year degree in studio art and has renovated the Beaufort campus to support fine-arts education. Additions to improve the art program included a ceramics lab, a graphic design lab and a printmaking press.
"We're excited about the growth on that campus and the opportunity to help that campus take on a new character of its own," Oblander said.
He expects a need for more housing in Beaufort as the university recruits more art students, who will spend most of their time north of the Broad River.
"We're going to move forward incrementally," he said. "We've got to start somewhere and that's a good place for us to start."