Allocating up to $180 million to new dorms, construction

By James Steinbauer and Megan Zahneis, The Miami Student

UPDATED: At 10:20 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 23

Miami University’s Board of Trustees voted this morning to allocate up to $180 million from the sale of bonds to the construction of two new residence halls and renovations to academic buildings.

The bonds will provide $38.5 million for the creation of a new residence hall on the old site of the Inter-Collegiate Athletics varsity tennis courts on North campus. The tennis courts were removed over the summer and will be relocated to the west side of Yager Stadium. The new residence hall erected where they once stood will provide approximately 340 beds and is expected to be completed by fall 2018.

Another $37 million will be allocated to the creation of a second residence hall on Tallawanda Road where Withrow Court once stood. The new residence hall will provide more than 270 beds and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2018.

The two new residence halls would fill a 600-bed shortfall on campus. With a total of 3,650 students, this year’s incoming class was the biggest in Miami history, and a recent Housing Master Plan update anticipates a demand of 8,100 total beds on campus by fall 2018.

“We’re committed to having freshmen and sophomores live on campus,” said Ted Pickerill, secretary to the Board of Trustees, in a meeting with students working for Patch’s MiamiUniversity/Oxford site. “We’re pretty much at our capacity right now and we need these two new residence halls to accommodate that.”

$11 million will be allocated to the renovation of the second and third floors of the west wing of Hughes Hall. This will create additional space during the Pearson Hall renovation, which should begin in fiscal year 18 and is expected to cost upwards of $60 million.

Miami currently has over $50 million in unpaid bonds from a similar funding initiative in 2007. Pickerill said the university will use money it makes from this round of bond sales to pay off past debts.

“The university has always made good on its bonds,” Pickerill said. “And when you issue new bonds, you can take the proceeds and pay off, early on, the old bonds. And we’re getting lower interest rates than those past bonds.”

The Board’s approval of the bond issue is only the first step in this process. The approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education is required prior to the issuance of bonds, but Pickerill said that is very likely.

“The university, just like businesses, gets rated for their financial stability and sound,” Pickerill said. “And Miami has a very good rating.”

Additionally, the Board approed several other resolutions, including the allocation of $150,000 in unrestricted funding as quasi-endowments for the Pre-Law Center and Student Affairs, and the renaming of the Department of Family Studies and Social Work.

Occasionally, the University allocates funds from large private donations that are unrestricted — meaning donors don’t specify a specific use for their money — as long-term financial support for strategic initiatives. Two of these quasi-endowments were awarded Friday to the Pre-Law Center and to the Division of Student Affairs. The Pre-Law Center will receive $50,000 and Student Affairs — which oversees all student organizations and Greek life — is slated to get $100,000.

Trustees are also approved a resolution renaming the Department of Family Studies and Social Work to the Department of Family Science and Social Work, on the recommendation of department chair Elise Radina. The name change, Radina wrote in a memo to University Senate’s Executive Committee, “reflects the national trend in the field in terms of locating Family Studies within a scientific context.”

The Board met from 9 to 11 a.m. today in room 180-6 of the Marcum Conference Center.