By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University officials say a new 700-bed ultra-modern residence hall scheduled to open in the fall is indicative of TSU’s growth and desire to create a better living and learning environment for students.
With growing enrollment and the need for new facilities, officials say the building will play a major role in recruitment efforts, as well as facilitate socialization and engagement, and provide an atmosphere for academic success. It is part of several planned and ongoing construction projects, including a new Health Sciences Building that was recently dedicated.
“The university is undergoing a renaissance of sorts,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “It began with our new, higher admission standards, and continues with the new construction of the residence hall and Health Sciences Building for prospective students to enjoy and reap the benefits.”
The new building, estimated at $75.3 million and the first new residence hall on the campus in nearly 25 years, will house lower and upperclassmen. It is described as a mixed community living facility that will offer multiple upscale living, dining, recreational and leisure concepts.
“This particular facility is designed to be a city or community for the students,” says Dr. Curtis Johnson, TSU’s chief of staff and associate vice president, who oversees campus construction. “In that concept, the intent is for the students to be able to do almost everything they need to do in that facility, without having to go across campus.”
Recently, Johnson conducted a tour of the ongoing construction with the campus chief project manager, representatives from Aramark, the food services provider, and the director of the campus Emergency Management department. The goal, he says, was to “bring the team members together to make sure we are on one accord.”
The team reviewed the advanced technology makeup of the building – monitors, access control, secure mechanisms – for the convenience and security of occupants; as well as living arrangements, such as a variety of room types for students and employees. Among them, four-bedroom suites with bathrooms, common areas, kitchenettes, as well as doubles, and pods with community bathrooms that are shared with select groups of individuals.
“The new residence facility is a mixture of spaces,” says Johnson. “When we initiated this project, one of the things we looked at was living spaces for traditional students and the non-traditional students. So, how do you accommodate all of those different groups? We also looked at being able to include space for camps and different programs should the need arise. So, having the building configured in a manner to accommodate that was also important.”
Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, says the new residence hall will foster a sense of community that creates greater opportunities for students to interact with each other.
“It is really exciting to have this residence hall coming online with an amazing living learning community-style,” says Stevenson. “Students will be able to experience some of the most modern amenities. We spare no expense in terms of making sure our students have a comfortable living space during their learning experience.”
Students are also excited about the prospect of a new residence hall and what it offers in terms of recruitment and upscale living.
“I think that this new addition is really good for the campus,” says Travion Crutcher, a senior mechanical engineering major from Huntsville, Alabama, who is a student ambassador. “That will help a lot with recruitment, and when we are talking to students about coming to TSU.”
Aaliyah Doss, a sophomore agricultural sciences major from Chicago, relishes the opportunity to be one of the first occupants of the new building.
“I lived in Epps Hall my freshman year and now in Rudolph Hall,” says Doss. “This new building will definitely give the campus a great look and make lots of students want to come to TSU.”
During the tour, Kathryn Crockett, district manager of Aramark, disclosed that dining in the new building will include brands such as Firehouse Subs, Twisters Tacos, Bojangles, Bento Shushi, and Noddle Rice Bowl. Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks are already fixtures on campus.
“We are thrilled to be here at TSU. We really enjoy taking care of this campus community and serving the students, faculty, and staff,” says Crockett. “We are really looking to round out our footprint here and continue the evolution of dining services on campus.”
Johnson adds that existing concepts will be upgraded and modified to blend in with the new offerings.
“We are also looking at Sport Zone to create a concept for students in the apartments,” says Johnson. “So, there is a whole metamorphosis of activities surrounding dining and food services for the students. We are working with our partner, Aramark, to enhance what we have by bringing in new concepts and upgrade those things that we already have.”
Others who accompanied Johnson on the tour of the ongoing construction were: George Herring, chief project manager; Hendrell Remus, director of campus Emergency Management; Terry Hammond, general manager of Aramark; and Jeanne Charlebois, concept innovation manager at Aramark.