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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2011

BGSU's new dorms draw students to campus

BOWLING GREEN -- The newest addition to Bowling Green State University's menu of on-campus living options has private bedrooms, plenty of gathering spaces, and more bathrooms per capita than any residence hall has had.

Student leaders such as Kevin Basch, who got a look inside Falcon Heights Hall Wednesday, said the four-person suites -- complete with four bedrooms, two full baths, and a living room -- combine the best elements of apartment life with all the advantages of living on campus.

"I was impressed with the use of natural light with some really large windows," Mr. Basch, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, said. "I think students are really going to appreciate that, plus that big courtyard."

Albert Colom, vice president of enrollment management at BGSU, said the ongoing construction blitz on campus, which includes two residence halls set to open in the fall, is making it easier for his office to recruit and retain students. Falcon Heights will house 646 upperclassmen while Centennial Hall will house about the same number of freshmen.

"Students want to come to a place where they're comfortable, where they feel safe," Mr. Colom said. "Students are excited about some of the programs and the buildings and everything, so we're on our way to really looking at our students holistically in terms of their success."

Enrollment at BGSU was up 2 percent last fall, while spring enrollment figures released Wednesday show a nearly 2 percent increase in undergraduate students at the main campus and a 7.8 percent decline in graduate students.

Overall, enrollment for all students at the BGSU main campus and its Firelands College was down by 44 students, or 0.2 percent.

Tim Messer-Kruse, interim vice provost for academics and dean of the graduate college, said the majority of the decline in graduate students appears to be in the college of education, "which would tell me there's a real economic reason behind that." Practicing teachers who come to BGSU to earn a master's degree historically have made up a large proportion of the graduate enrollment in education, he said, but they no longer may be receiving tuition assistance from their schools.

Falcon Heights has four-bedroom suites with two baths and a living room, giving students more dorm options. Falcon Heights has four-bedroom suites with two baths and a living room, giving students more dorm options.
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As for undergraduates, Mr. Colom said he is encouraged by the numbers he's seeing for the fall. BGSU had the second-largest freshman class in its history last fall, and he said he believes it will enroll its largest-ever freshman class in the fall of 2011. All the early predictors -- prospects, applications, admissions, and paid housing -- are up compared to this time last year.

"Every week we break new records," Mr. Colom said. "Even our transfer student applications are up."

While the university has stepped up marketing and recruiting efforts, new buildings such as the $36 million Stroh Center, the $41 million Wolfe Center for the Arts, and the two new residence halls are drawing students.

Sarah Waters, director of residence life at BGSU, said that with the new residence halls, the university will be able to house about 7,300 students on campus compared to its capacity of about 6,500.

The new dorms were designed, she said, to give students a range of choices of living arrangements -- from traditional, lower-cost dorm rooms to suite-style rooms with private bathrooms that carry a higher price tag.

"You have a lot of students with price-sensitive parents, so you want to have multiple tiers of offerings," Andrea Depinet, associate director for business operations and residence life, said.

On Tuesday, the University of Toledo reported a 2 percent decline in overall enrollment for spring semester for all students at all of its campuses. Also reporting spring enrollment figures Wednesday:

• Owens Community College, with campuses in Perrysburg Township and Findlay, reported an 8 percent decline in enrollment -- from 20,646 at this time last year to 18,965 this year.

• Terra Community College in Fremont reported a 6.5 percent increase in students attending classes this spring -- from 3,326 last spring to 3,541 this spring.

• Northwest State Community College near Archbold reported a 2 percent decline in full-time equivalent students for spring, although its head count of all students was up 8.7 percent -- from 2,849 at this time last year to 3,097 this year. College spokesman Amanda Potts said more students are taking fewer classes, which could indicate more students are being called back to work but continuing to take classes part time.

• Lourdes College in Sylvania reported a spring enrollment of 2,393 students -- a 12 percent increase over this time last year.

Lourdes, which opened a housing complex for students in the fall, said its largest growth was in nursing and management programs.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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