Glenda Smith has done it before: She has been among the first to move into a new residence hall at the University of Toledo.
In 2002, Miss Smith, then a freshman, spent the year living in the $33 million The Crossings. Just across the lawn from it, Miss Smith this year will live and work as a resident adviser in the Ottawa House West, part of a $40 million, two-unit, 620-bed complex.
Her goal for the year? To draw students out of their four-person, suite-style rooms so they can mingle and enjoy the hall's attributes, which include a fitness center, dining hall, lounges on the floors, and direct access to a hike-bike trail.
Ms. Smith's other plan is to help devise traditions for the Ottawa House East and Ottawa House West buildings.
"I mostly just like the fact that we can start new things," said Ms. Smith, 21, a nursing student from Akron.
The new residence halls, which are not connected but nearly complete a circle with The Crossings on the south side of campus, are two of the many new offerings that will greet students when classes resume Aug. 22 at the area's three public colleges and universities.
Some of the others include a new, nearly $20 million Owens Community College campus in Findlay; a nearly $1 million dining hall at Owens in Perrysburg Township, and about 380 university-leased, off-campus apartments to accommodate an overflow of students who want to live at Bowling Green State University.
In addition, at the private Lourdes College in Sylvania, students will return to renovated science labs that were funded through a $325,000 federal grant. Classes resume there on Aug. 29, which is the same as most other private colleges across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
At UT, workers were busy moving furniture and prepping areas at the Ottawa residence halls this week, where the bulk of students will arrive on Thursday. The first major move-in day at UT is planned for Wednesday at Parks Tower, which is the most difficult building to access on campus.
The Ottawa residence halls are UT's most expensive place to live, with a cost of $5,612 annually, not including meals.
The dining hall at the Ottawa House complex remains under construction and won't be open until mid-September.
The new residence hall complex was built in response to studies that showed a demand for on-campus living.
Last year, UT ended leases for this fall at off-campus apartments because of the new halls and because it did not fill its own rooms.
This year, the university has about 4,200 beds available on campus.
The situation UT faced years ago with a need for off-campus beds is one BGSU is dealing with this year. There, officials have leased apartments at two complexes contiguous to campus. Students with 25 or more credit hours who wanted campus housing were offered the off-campus apartments in February, said Linda Newman, assistant vice president of student affairs and director of residence life at BGSU.
Similar to UT, first-year students at BGSU - estimated at 3,300 this fall - are expected to arrive on campus Thursday. The remainder of returning students will move in on Aug. 21.
Although students don't live on the Owens campus in Findlay, they will take classes Aug. 22 at a new facility, a campus that has room for additional growth.
Owens students also will take classes for the first time in Lucas County in an area designated for them at the Medical University of Ohio campus. At Owens' Perrysburg Township campus, officials recently completed a new dining center, known as the Fireside Grill, which contains a cyber cafe with computers, a sports cafe with wide-screen TVs, and an express cafe where students can study and eat.
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