Dedication of much-needed residence hall a highlight of FHSU Homecoming activities

10/06/12 ks

HAYS, Kan. -- Even a university can experience growing pains. Fort Hays State University has the cure.

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, joined with staff from Residential Life and with friends and alumni today to dedicate the newest building on the university's campus. A new and much more modern Agnew Hall opened at the beginning of this fall semester on the site of the former Agnew Hall, which was razed in the summer of 2010 because of its deteriorating condition and outdated layout.

"The students really helped us design this model," he said. "I'm pleased with the way it came out."

Dr. Tisa Mason, vice president of Students Affairs, explained that students were consulted to determine the characteristics of the new residence hall. "This is a building that was dreamed about," she said, adding that "it was built to fit the dream."

Brian Faust, director of Residential Life, said the model for new Agnew Hall -- which offers suite-style housing -- was halfway between a traditional residence hall and apartment housing, such as Stadium Place on the FHSU campus. "A suite in Agnew Hall consists of four single bedrooms, where students get a bedroom to themselves, a small living room and a small kitchenette with a counter, microwave and small refrigerator," he said.

A year ago, the continuing growth in enrollment and the corresponding increase in demand for student housing forced the university to temporarily locate some of its male students at the local Motel 6. Dr. Hammond explained at the time that the overflow resulted from an increase in the rate of retention and from increased recruitment of students.

From an enrollment of 5,800 in the year 2000, FHSU enrollment grew to 12,802 last year and to 13,310 this semester. With 123 beds, Agnew Hall meets this year's increased demand. This was only the first phase of residence hall expansion. The second phase, which will provide 107 beds, will open in fall 2013 and help meet the demands of continuing growth at FHSU.

The cost for the two residence halls is $9.2 million, which includes construction, architectural fees, furnishings and so forth. Paul-Wertenberger Construction Inc., a Hays company, is the developer/contractor for the project.

Brian Smith, a Maxwell, Neb., sophomore and resident of Agnew Hall, said he was excited to move in at the beginning of the semester. "I felt like it was a 5-star hotel," he said. "It's a fun place to be, and I love living here."

Public tours of the new Agnew Hall and the other residence halls followed the dedication ceremony, allowing alumni to reminisce about their days of living on campus and giving other visitors a glimpse into modern student life.

The residence hall project is just one of four construction projects on the FHSU campus. The others include the recently completed road along the dike by Big Creek extending Dwight Drive to Gustad Drive; a new academic building, the Center for Networked Learning, which will be constructed in the area between the Big Creek dike and Tomanek Hall; and a new indoor sports facility that is under construction at the southeast corner of the FHSU campus near Lewis Field Stadium.

The total cost of the four projects is about $30 million, with a projected economic impact on the region and state of about $45 million.

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