New dorms not in university’s plans

The apartments at 2085 Grand Ave. currently are used for sophomore housing. (Dan Cook/TommieMedia)
The apartments at 2085 Grand Ave. currently are used for sophomore housing. (Dan Cook/TommieMedia)

 After $120 million worth of building projects at St. Thomas, the upcoming on-campus housing registration deadlines are generating rumors about a need for additional housing options and have many students wondering if new dorms are in the works.

Although these rumors are circulating, Director of Residence Life Bryan Helminiak said that on-campus housing is only at 94 percent capacity for spring 2012.

Sophomore Steven Gitzen, an Ireland Hall resident, said that he did not make the cutoff for the sophomore apartment selection and had to live in the dorms.

“I tried to get into the sophomore apartments on Grand, but that didn’t work out lottery-wise,” Gitzen said.

Mark Dienhart, St. Thomas chief operating officer, acknowledged that situations like Glitzen’s happen but stressed the university’s financial interests.

“Could everyone be accommodated (on-campus) where they wanted to? I’m sure not. But if we built another residence hall, we might be faced with 500 empty beds. That would be a waste of money,” Dienhart said.

With the additions of the Anderson Student Center and the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex, Dienhart said that students may be motivated to stay on campus for programming, food, events and to work out. He also said that the university has consistently seen less than 50 percent of its students living on campus.

“If we’re going to do something in terms of Residence Life, it would probably be to try to either replace or upgrade the older structures we have,” Dienhart said.

Some of the university’s offices located in buildings on Summit, Cleveland, Grand and Cretin avenues could be moved into the Murray-Herrick Campus Center. This move would create space for the possibility of what Dienhart called a “residential village made up of individual apartment buildings that could be added to incrementally.”

St. Thomas will be considering other high priorities such as additions to the Frey Science and Engineering Center and a new fine arts building for its next capitol campaign, which Dienhart said may launch in five or more years.

Heidi Enninga can be reached at

4 Replies to “New dorms not in university’s plans”

  1. Interesting.  Glad that a building with state of the art material that’s 15 years old is getting the same priority for a building that’s 43 years old and has next to nothing near state of the art.

  2. The reason that most students don’t live on campus is two fold. One, it’s much more affordable to live off campus (I pay half of what my friends living in Morrison pay) and second the state of the buildings on campus. I think that building new residences would help draw more students into on campus housing, if it was more affordable as well. 

  3. If students at UST feel as though the residence halls are out-dated, they should definitely look at the facilities with which other Universities must work. I lived in Dowling my first year, Morrison for two years, and then Flynn in my senior year. In regards to the traditional halls on campus (i.e., Dowling, Brady, Ireland, etc.), they are much more well-kept than most students truly give them credit for. Comparatively, the square footage, the carpet, and the bathrooms are far more up-to-date than most universities I have seen. I understand the argument of affordability, but living on-campus gives students so many opportunities that just can’t be found in off-campus housing, many students just fail to take advantage of the opportunities around them while they are on campus. 

    Side note: In terms of Residence Life, the word “dorm” couldn’t be more out of date (as long as were talking about things that are out of date…).

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