The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees met Tuesday for a regularly scheduled meeting. Included on the agenda was the possible approval of leasing what's now Haggin Field to a private company to build and manage a new dorm building.
The board unanimously approved the proposal which enters the university into a 50-year lease agreement with Education Realty Trust. The Tennessee-based company will build a $26-million dorm boasting more space, privacy and updated common areas for students.
"This has been a tremendous amount of work," commented UK Board Treasurer Angela Martin following the meeting. "I think the students will really appreciate it and as President Capilouto says, they come first."
Martin met with the finance committee prior to the full board meeting Tuesday afternoon. She says working with the private company gives UK more bang for the buck.
"I don't know how we'd be able to do it otherwise," she said. "Especially this fast."
Martin says students who live on campus do about 20-percent better as far as grades than students who do not. She says the new facility, scheduled to open in 2016, will also include study spaces.
Most importantly, she says it's key to getting kids in the door.
"The change means we'll be able to recruit and retain Kentucky's brightest students," Martin said. "Actually, living facilities are a big deal for recruiting. They go to other institutions and other states and are wowed. Then they come here and see Kirwin Tower and are not wowed."
Martin says Kirwin and Blanding Towers and the low-rise dorms around them will be included in the building the school hopes to replace in the next 7 years. They say they hope to replace them with new, state of the art facilities like the one that was approved today.
Martin says there has not been a decision made about whether or not the school will use Education Realty Trust for future projects.