A dormitory for UW-Rock County?
JANESVILLE UW-Rock County officials are considering something they’ve never had in the 46 years of the school’s existence—a dormitory.
A $14,000 market study is being conducted to look at the feasibility, UW-Rock Dean Carmen Wilson confirmed Friday.
UW-Rock and the UW Colleges are each paying half the cost. The UW Colleges oversees all the UW System’s two-year campuses.
The study should be completed sometime in November, and Wilson guessed it will say that a residence hall is a good idea. She hopes to have a decision one way or the other by the end of this year.
The dorm could be run by UW-Rock or a private operation, Wilson said, or it could be a public-private partnership.
Wilson said the campus facilities plan has a location picked out on the south side of the campus. There’s also land close to the campus for a private dorm, Wilson said.
UW-Rock produces mostly two-year degrees for students interested in continuing at a four-year university. It has also increased its four-year degree offerings over the past 10 years or so.
Enrollment is at an all-time high, but Wilson said a rebounding economy might change that trend. On the other hand, UW-Rock is hoping to draw students from northern Illinois through an interstate tuition agreement.
UW-Rock reported a record 1,303 full- and part-time students this fall.
The study will include a survey of students to find out where they live, if they would be interested in a dorm and what kind of dorm they would like, Wilson said. The consultant also will look at residence options in the area, typical costs and what those living arrangements include, Wilson said.
The question will be whether students are well accommodated, or if is there a need, she said.
Wilson said she has heard from local residents, students and UW-Rock employees since she arrived on campus last fall that students would benefit from housing on or near campus.
“So it’s something that the campus community as well as the community at large has been talking about,” she said.
Wilson said several of the other two-year UW campuses are considering residence halls, and UW-Marinette opened a residence hall this fall and filled it immediately, Wilson said.
Marinette’s dorm has 90 beds, while a proposal at UW-Baraboo would have 120, so UW-Rock’s could be somewhere in that range, Wilson said.
The idea is to recover costs, not to generate income for the college, Wilson said. But a dorm could help students.
“One of the things we know is that students who live on campus or nearby tend to have higher retention rates,” Wilson said. “We want to ensure the success of our students and to keep them here.”
A dorm also could bring in international students, which interests UW Colleges administration. UW-Rock has had interest from foreign students, but finding them a place to live has been a challenge, Wilson said.
“Several” private developers have already contacted UW-Rock about the possibility of building a residence hall, Wilson said.
Rock County has paid for the building and upkeep of UW-Rock’s buildings, but this would likely not be a county-funded project, Wilson said.
“We know they’re stretched, so I don’t know if that’s the best use of county funds right now,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she discussed the idea with neighbors last spring and will keep them informed of developments.
“I’m sure the neighbors will be interested in how this would impact the neighborhood, and we want to be sure we’re respectful of the neighbors,” Wilson said.