Closing Time: Two Of The Oldest Dorms At UK To Shut Down

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Two of the University of Kentucky's oldest dormitories will close their doors next year while the school decides whether to upgrade the facilities to accommodate the more eclectic tastes of today's students.

Occupancy rates at Boyd Hall, which opened in 1925, and Jewell Hall, which opened in 1939, have dropped below the 90 percent, the threshold required for the dormitories to break even financially.

The dorms will be closed for at least the 2008-09 school year. Whether they reopen largely depends on if the school is willing to foot the bill for extensive renovations.

Neither dorm has air conditioning, and bathrooms are located down the hall. The majority of newer residences put students into four-person suites that include a shared bathroom. The newer dorms also offer easy access to a kitchen and upscale lounges.

The rise in private housing available to undergraduates has given students more choices, with many preferring not to be stuck in the antiquated dorms.

Only about 25 percent of undergraduates live on campus, and the majority of those are first-year students who eventually move off campus into posher digs.

The university has attempted to compete with private residences by opening modern, plush dormitories on campus. The school opened four dorms offering 684 beds in 2005, the same year Newtown Crossing, a 900-bed facility featuring 340 fully furnished apartments opened.

University associated vice president for auxiliary services Ben Crutcher said that kind of competition could make it difficult for the school to consider remodeling Boyd and Jewell Halls.

The decision will also depend on demand. Occupancy levels at university housing dropped this year partly because the school opted to hold down enrollment in an effort to improve the student-to-faculty ratio.

That dip likely won't last long. As part of its goal to become a Top 20 public research university by 2020, the school will need to increase the number of undergraduates by 6,200 over the next 12 years, meaning the school would likely need an additional 1,500 beds on-campus.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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