Author Ann Douglas is quoted as saying "Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved." But for Western Illinois University Housing and Dining Services (UHDS), there's always room for improvement when it comes to college students' homes away from home. Roughly one-third of Western's nearly 12,500 student body lives on campus, and to make residence hall life as comfortable - and convenient - as possible, UHDS created a master plan in October 2008. The plan's purpose is to address aging residence hall facilities and declining residence hall occupancy, as well as to ensure the future success of WIestern's housing and dining program. The following projects and studies are currently underway as part of the master plan. The complete plan can be found at wiu.edu/student_services/housing/about/masterplan.php. Corbin/Olson Renovations The Corbin/Olson (COOL) renovations are continuing on schedule and the buildings are set to re-open Fall 2012. During contract renewal set to begin Dec. 1, rooms in Corbin Hall and Olson Hall will be included as an option for current students. The renovations include suite-style rooms, as well as a limited number of new "super double" rooms (housing two people). The Fine Arts Floor will re-open in Corbin, while an International Floor is being planned for Olson. New student lounges and gaming areas will be available in both towers while a new computer lab will be provided on the Olson side. Each floor will be outfitted with lounge space, studio/practice space and its own laundry room. A floor in Olson Hall will also be reserved to house conference attendees. The largest change is the complex's renovated dining center and student commons area. COOL updates can be found at wiu.edu/student_services/housing/about/facility_improvements/corbinolsonupdates.php.
Break/Continuous Housing UHDS is reviewing a new break housing option for students living in Olson Hall during the 2012-13 academic year. The option will allow students to pay a flat rate to stay in their room during the fall, winter and spring break periods. Details are being finalized, and must receive Board of Trustees approval. The program will be integrated in the renewal process that occurs in December for students to "opt-in" for break housing. UHDS is seeking student feedback to help guide the decision-making process. A brief survey has been sent via email to all current residence hall students.
Lincoln/Washington Room and Bathroom Renovations To date, renovations have been completed on 18 residential floors in Lincoln-Washington halls, which include new furniture in rooms and lounges and fresh coats of paint. Thirteen community bathrooms are complete in Washington Hall, with the Lincoln Hall restroom renovations scheduled for Summer 2012. Washington Hall resident and Inter-Hall Council President Tenisia Adams said she is "excited about the ongoing renovations taking place across campus. With the recent renovations in Lincoln and Washington, the rooms just seem a lot more spacious. The furniture has also been given a more updated look to the rooms and the lounges, and the restrooms are so much more functional and up-to-date," she added. "The work that UHDS and other campus personnel are doing are bringing our residential facilities to a level that matches the 'at home' feeling that the housing staff works so hard at creating."
Thompson and Higgins halls While the needs of Thompson Hall were addressed in the original Master Plan as a project slated for "2013 and Beyond," UHDS has recently completed a review of the current condition of the building. As a result, UHDS will begin renovations as early as May 2012, which could take six months to one year to complete. Possible renovations currently in discussion include new exterior siding (including new windows and interior wall finishes; new furniture and carpeting in all rooms; and a new heating and air conditioning system to provide greater efficiency and comfort). As a result of the temporary closure of Thompson Hall, which houses 1,000 students, UHDS is reviewing alternative housing options. Corbin/Olson halls will be open, and Higgins Hall may be reconfigured to house first-year students for Fall 2012 or the entire 2012-2013 academic year while Thompson undergoes renovations. Higgins Hall was originally set to close by Fall 2012; however, UHDS may keep the building open one additional year to accommodate students during the Thompson Hall closure.
Dining Center Changes As occupancy levels will change across campus in Fall 2012, UHDS is reviewing the impact these changes may have on dining center hours and operations. A labor analysis study is underway to determine the most efficient use of dining center operations. Such possibilities (or a combination of) exist for the Lincoln/Washington/Grote Dining Center and West (Thompson-Higgins) Dining Center: (a) limit hours of operations; (b) provide C-Store only; or (c) no change in operations.
Residence Hall Lobby Renovations UHDS recently finished a review of all residence hall lobbies and front desk areas, which are planned to undergo renovations within the new few years, according to A.J. Lutz, assistant director of marketing and communication for UHDS.
Behind-the-Scenes To ensure the comfort of North Quad residents, chillers will be replaced during Summer 2012 in Tanner, Bayliss and Henninger halls. Housing staff continues to work with University Technology (uTech) on VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and wireless connection projects, and is reviewing new access/security measures for entry into the halls.
Wetzel Hall Demolition The demolition of Wetzel Hall, which was closed following the Spring 2009 semester, is tentatively scheduled to take place in May 2012. The demolition is currently in the design and planning phase, and according to UHDS staff, an implosion expert has visited campus to study the building and demolition area. Once the building is removed, the intended use for the site is green space with limited parking spots available. Lutz said that 80 to 90 percent of the materials from the Wetzel (and Lamoine Village) demolitions will be recycled, which diverts the construction material from landfills.
Lamoine Village Closure & Demolition Lamoine Village buildings two and three will close May 31, 2012. Building one was taken off-line at the end of the Spring 2010 semester. Following the closure of all Lamoine Village buildings, UHDS will begin the decommissioning process, and demolition will be scheduled at a later date. The demolition date is contingent upon funding. Projects 2013 and Beyond • Renovation of Bayliss and Henninger halls bathrooms • Renovation of the Thompson Hall 18th floor • Programming study for new on-campus housing construction options. For questions or to submit feedback about this update or the UHDS Master Plan, contact UHDS at facebook.com/WIUHousing or email@example.com.