Wichita State President John Bardo hinted at promising fall enrollment numbers for the university, and their potential effect on student housing, at last week’s Kansas Board of Regents meeting in Topeka.
“Our numbers for fall, as of right now — and you know this can change — but our numbers are looking pretty good,” Bardo said. “And we have notified just about everybody in residence halls that they probably will be tripled.”
Tripling, assigning three residents to a room meant for two, occurs when the number of residents exceeds the number of available beds.
“You don’t like to do that to students, but at the same time, we’re pretty excited that we have that kind of interest and we have to triple,” Bardo said.
During a break, Bardo elaborated on fall enrollment, saying specific enrollment data could not be provided without regent approval.
“It’ll be solid,” Bardo said. “Don’t know what solid looks like yet.”
“Transfers are looking pretty good, hours are looking pretty good — credit hours — so you know, just keep our fingers crossed.”
Bardo said resident housing is in high demand at WSU.
“The number of people who want to live in residence halls now is way up,” Bardo said.
A month before move-in day last school year, WSU announced that university-owned Fairmount Towers residence hall would close. Before receiving the required state approval, WSU announced that the roughly 300 students who planned to live in Fairmount would be relocated to The Flats, a new private apartment complex on Innovation Campus that was developed by a company owned in part by the chair of the board of regents.
Before the announcement, less than one in five available beds at The Flats had been filled. The relocation filled The Flats and compelled the university to triple Shocker Hall, leaving 80 students in “temporary arrangements.”
“We’ve been trying to figure out how to close Fairmount for years,” Bardo told The Sunflower last week.
“It’s beer, it’s not wine, you know? It hasn’t aged well and it’s in the wrong location to centralize students and to get students engaged, so it needed to go away.”
The 54-year-old building located on the opposite corner of the intersection of 21st Street and Hillside, is set to be demolished by spring of 2019.
Students relocated to The Flats last year paid the same rate they signed up to pay at Fairmount Towers. This year, students who live in The Flats will pay an increased rate, which was approved by the regents in December. Board Chair David Murfin, a 25-percent owner of the real estate company that developed The Flats, abstained from the vote.
In March, the regents approved Phase 2 of The Flats, a lower-priced residence hall set to open in the fall of 2019.
Based on a leasing agreement that began June 1, and projected occupancy levels for next year provided by the university, WSU expects to pay Murfin’s company, MWCB, LLC, more than $2.5 million this year to lease The Flats.