Fifteen years ago, nearly all students who lived on campus at Colorado State were newly admitted first-year students who had never attended a university, younger than 21, not married and whose parents did not live in Fort Collins.
Today, CSU offers a rich campus living experience for students of all ages, ranging from the typical freshman to students of every description: older, married (with or without children), and those who have traveled across half the world to attend the university.
This change has been intentional, part of a campaign to encourage students to live on campus to help accommodate projected enrollment growth. CSU has added an additional 2,600 beds through a strategic housing development plan in the last 12 years. And with that new emphasis, Housing & Dining Services revitalized and reimaged what student housing can look like.
Residence halls and apartments now feature designated classroom space, integrated indoor and outdoor study spaces, bike repair room, and gathering spaces around fire pits and amphitheaters that enhance engagement and help build a sense of community. Halls represent innovative living and learning communities at their best.
“One of the primary focuses with housing development over the past decade has been the integration of learning into the living environment,” said Jim Dolak, executive director of Housing & Dining. CSU now offers 19 on-campus communities offering such enhancements, known as living learning communities. “All students who live on campus benefit from the integration of classroom and study spaces in our housing and dining buildings, and we’ve developed multiple programs around student success as part of that experience, too.”
For example, Taking Stock, a partnership with Center for Advising and Student Achievement, provides a first semester pulse on how well a student is adjusting to the academic and social rigors of college life and provides information to campus offices that can intervene early to help students who are struggling to build skills to succeed. Housing & Dining also partners with other Division of Student Affairs offices and academic units to offer tutoring programs in the halls. Students with similar interests and majors can live together in residence halls where academics and social learning are enhanced through faculty involvement.
Planning for growth
Planning began years ago to accommodate forecasted enrollment growth. The university officially adopted a physical plan in 2014 that would allow 35,000 students to attend CSU, about 10,000 more than it had at the time. The plan mapped out how the university could manage population and physical growth, with added residence halls and academic buildings, even as state funding for infrastructure and building improvements and development dropped.
Over the last decade Housing & Dining also focused on improving and expanding seven existing residence halls, including adding another floor to several to expand capacity. The opening of Aggie Village North adds almost 1,000 beds through apartment-style living, complementing another 1,600 beds added by previous renovations and new construction. In addition, Housing & Dining has renovated and developed various dining centers as part of its master plan.
The emphasis on redeveloping housing on campus also helps alleviate housing pressures within the city. While multiple apartment complexes have been developed within Fort Collins in the last few years, the university is staying competitive with the local housing market.
Housing & Dining is already looking toward new housing options to replace aging residence halls and buildings on campus, including consideration of expanding Academic Village onto the current sites of Newsom and Aylesworth halls. If that project moves forward, it will complete a continuous housing zone on both the north and south sides of campus that will connect the halls to the academic core of campus. Renovation of Allison Hall’s dining center is set to begin this fiscal year.
Housing & Dining construction and renovation projects since 2004
Summit Hall = 535 beds added
Ellis Hall (deconstructed to make room for Academic Village) = 400 beds removed
Academic Village Engineering Hall = 261 beds added
Academic Village Honors Hall = 165 beds added
Aspen Hall = 217 beds added
Parmelee Hall addition of fourth floor = 120 beds added
Braiden Hall addition of fourth floor = 120 beds added
Laurel Village Alpine and Pinon Halls = 615 beds added
Aggie Village apartments = 973 beds added
TOTAL BEDS ADDED = 2,606
Ram’s Horn (with Academic Village)
Corbett and Parmelee
Benefits to students
The projected 7,850 CSU students living on campus this fall benefit from close proximity to their classes, university athletic and social activities, and cost-saving measures such as easy access to public transit, dining centers, Morgan Library and the award-winning Rec Center. They also tend to have a higher grade point average and feel more connected to the university and other students than those living off campus.
CSU is working to accommodate the needs and preferences of older students, too, with options such as selecting groups of rooms in close proximity to friends and living in designated upperclass and transfer communities. Living on campus also helps students have greater intercultural interactions and more readily embrace university values, such as sustainability.
“As we have renovated existing facilities and built new facilities, sustainability has been a core value. We have achieved or are pursuing LEED certification on nine buildings, including CSU’s first LEED Platinum building, the Pavilion at Laurel Village, and CSU’s first LEED EBOM – Existing Building Operations and Maintenance – at Summit Hall,” said Tonie Miyamoto, director of communications and sustainability for Housing & Dining, and co-chair of the university’s committee heading up sustainability efforts.
“We have also worked hard to engage students in sustainability by establishing the Eco Leader Peer Education program, launching three learning communities that offer a sustainability focus, and working with campus partners to ensure that sustainable transportation, energy reduction, and socially responsible food choices are part of the campus living experience,” she added. “Today’s students are looking for authentic, sustainable and socially just campus living, and it is our responsibility to meet those needs.”