Showing posts with label housing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label housing. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2016

Moody’s downgrades FAMU dormitory bond rating, cites Mangum’s enrollment decline

The millions FAMU lost in tuition and fees due to declining enrollment under former President Elmira Mangum has now played a big role in hurting the school’s dormitory bond rating.

Last week, a press release by Moody’s Investors Service announced the company’s decision to downgrade to “Baa1” FAMU’s $38 million Series 2012A Dormitory Revenue Bonds issued by the Division of Bond Finance on behalf of the Florida Board of Governors. It reported that the “outlook is negative.”

Mangum began her presidency on April 1, 2014. Eight months later, on December 1, 2014, Moody’s gave FAMU an “A3” rating, which is one level higher than the new 2016 rating of “Baa1.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

Delay in opening FAMU Village’s sixth floor causes headaches for students

This week, hundreds of Rattler families arrived on campus for move-in day at the university’s newest housing facility, FAMU Village. But the students who were slated to move into the complex’s top floor will have to wait more than a week before they can get settled in their new home-away-from-home.

The sixth floor of FAMU Village remains offline due to what the Division of Student Affairs describes as construction-related delays. Officials expect it to be ready to open on September 2.

“The university whole-heartedly apologizes for any inconvenience caused to its students and parents as a result of the delay,” Vice-President for Student Affairs William Hudson said in a statement on the university’s website. “As Vice President of Student Affairs, I want to assure those who have been impacted that all moving expenses will be covered.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Polkinghorne Village on schedule for completion by summer 2014

FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson and Joe Kokolakis, CEO of J. Kokolakis Contracting, paused to commemorate the topping off a new 800-bed residence hall, located at 667 Gamble Street. The six-story 244,722-square-foot building is projected to cost $37.4 million and is slated for completion next summer.

“On-campus living is a staple in the college experience for several reasons. Students who live on campus tend to be more engaged in the college experience,” said Robinson. “The convenience of being close to their classes, the library and dining services all contribute to an environment that allows students to establish a sense of community and focus on excelling in the classroom.

Robinson and Kokolakis donned aprons and served lunch to the 200 construction workers in appreciation for their efforts to build a quality facility on time and on budget.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

FAMU makes way for new Polkinghorne

FAMU President James H. Ammons personally initiated the demolition of the old Polkinghorne Village yesterday with a series of mallet blows to the roof and exterior wall.

Polkinghorne, which has been closed since 2004, sits next to the Student Services Center and Bragg Memorial Stadium. The old building is being completely torn down to make way for a brand new facility.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Renovations make Sampson, Young as good as new

Yesterday, FAMU released photos of the newly renovated Sampson and Young Halls. The two buildings have brand new furniture, carpet, floor tiles, and paint jobs. They also have new electrical wiring, fire sprinklers, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems.

On September 19, 2010, Rattler Nation broke the news that FAMU had received a $700,000 federal grant to help renovate Sampson. University officials secured bonds to cover the rest of the costs associated with bringing Sampson and Young up to code.

Sampson and Young's reopening will add 208 beds to campus, bringing FAMU's total to 2,692. Residents of the two dormitories will live in close proximity to the Student Services building, Coleman Library, and Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FAMU to save $20M by adding two stories to Polkinghorne plans

FAMU will save $20M on the estimated cost of the new Polkinghorne Village by adding two floors to the apartment complex, making it a six story building. The total price should be approximately $43M, down from the original budgeted figure of $63M.

The two additional stories will shave costs by reducing the total number of buildings in the complex. That will generate even more savings by opening space to place the required storm water runoff controls on the property’s surface, as opposed to the more expensive option of using an underground system.

Polkinghorne, which has been closed since 2004, sits next to the Student Services Center and Bragg Memorial Stadium.

From DAG Architects:

The facility is intended to create a new campus gateway and promote positive patterns for future campus development. Based on a mixed use model, the design includes approximately 800 beds, several community rooms on each floor, and provides university use spaces at ground level.

Besides the spaces contained within the buildings, the buildings themselves shape a series of courtyard spaces culminating in a central plaza envisioned to become a hub of campus activities. These exterior spaces coupled with a large green space behind the dormitory provide great opportunities for student interaction and campus events.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

FAMU planning major changes to Palmetto South

FAMU officials are currently surveying the Palmetto Street South apartments for potential renovations and new construction.

During the recent Board of Trustees retreat, President James H. Ammons stated that the university might demolish and rebuild the complex, entirely.

Palmetto Street South opened in 1993 and has a capacity of 360 students. The complex consists of consists of four three-story brick apartment buildings. Currently, they house both male and female students in separate buildings. Each apartment suite contains two or three bedrooms with kitchen, dining/living room, bathrooms, and storage closet.

A separate Commons Building within the complex includes a laundry, vending area, office, and recreation/TV room and computer lab with wireless Internet connections.

FAMU’s 2004 Student Housing Comprehensive Plan stated that Palmetto Street South is in need of upgrades to its HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems. The piping and plumbing systems also need to be either upgraded or replaced.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sampson, Young renovations in high gear

Major renovations are underway at Sampson and Young Halls.

The two dormitories are getting new electrical systems, piping and plumbing, fire doors, and fire sprinklers. They will also be remodeled with better heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Sampson (1938) and Young (1929) Halls were both built during the Great Depression. FAMU closed the two dormitories in 2003 due to various building code violations.

On September 19, 2010, Rattler Nation broke the news that FAMU had received a $700,000 federal grant to help renovate Sampson. The university has secured bonds to cover the rest of the costs associated with bringing Sampson and Young up to code.

University officials hope to re-open the dormitories as soon as Fall 2011. The two halls will add 208 beds to campus. FAMU’s housing department currently has a total of 2,484 beds.

Former Vice-President of Student Affairs Roland H. Gaines and current Vice-President for Student Affairs William E. Hudson, Jr. have both stated that the expansion of on-campus housing will help improve FAMU’s six-year graduation rate. Campus housing helps students save money and afford more credit hours.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sampson, Young could reopen by Fall 2011

In a recent interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, FAMU Interim Vice-President for Student Affairs William Hudson, Jr. stated that he is optimistic that Sampson and Young Halls will reopen by the start of 2011-2012 school year.

FAMU closed the two dormitories in 2003 due to various building code violations.

Sampson (1938) and Young (1929) Halls were both built during the Great Depression. A 2003 FAMU housing study cited a number of serious problems in the two buildings that include: nonconforming fire doors, inadequate fire alarm systems, deteriorated piping and plumbing systems, insufficient electrical systems, and inadequate fire sprinkler protection.

On September 19, 2010, Rattler Nation broke the news that FAMU had received a $700,000 federal grant to help renovate Sampson. The university has secured bonds to cover the rest of the costs associated with bringing Sampson and Young up to code.

FAMU currently has only 2,484 on-campus beds for a student body of 13,284. Sampson would add 182 beds and Young would add 94, bringing the campus total up to 2760.

Re-opening Sampson and Young would likely give a boost to FAMU’s six-year graduation rate. Housing helps students afford more credit hours by cutting down the cost of living. Campus housing rental rates are usually much cheaper than private-owned apartments. Students also save money by using campus meal plans and walking to class instead of driving. That leaves them with more dollars to spend on courses.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Polkinghorne will become campus gateway

DAG Architects, a Destin, Florida-based company, has produced an early design for FAMU’s new Polkinghorne Village. The apartment complex, which has been closed since 2004, sits next to the Student Services Center and Bragg Memorial Stadium.

FAMU estimates the project will cost $63 million and be finished by Fall 2012.

From DAG Architects:

The facility is intended to create a new campus gateway and promote positive patterns for future campus development. Based on a mixed use model, the design includes approximately 800 beds, several community rooms on each floor, and provides university use spaces at ground level.

Besides the spaces contained within the buildings, the buildings themselves shape a series of courtyard spaces culminating in a central plaza envisioned to become a hub of campus activities. These exterior spaces coupled with a large green space behind the dormitory provide great opportunities for student interaction and campus events.

See more photos here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

U.S. Interior Dept awards $700K to renovate Sampson Hall

FAMU has received a $700,000 federal grant to renovate George M. Sampson Hall.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that FAMU is one of the 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that will be a beneficiary of $14.25 million for historic preservation grants aimed at providing assistance in the repair of historic buildings. The Department made these funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for projects that will repair and preserve campus buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“The recovery funds not only will restore historic buildings on these campuses but also will provide a boost to individuals and companies performing the repairs, college communities and related local economies,” Salazar said.

Architect Magazine reports that “From 1980 through 2006, the NPS granted roughly $3 million a year to HBCUs for preservation projects, but the grants required matching funds, which many schools failed to raise. U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) successfully pushed for increasing funding and easing the match requirements in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

Sampson, a campus dormitory, was constructed in 1938. It was closed in 2003 due to various code violations. A 2003 FAMU housing study cited a number of serious problems in the building that included: nonconforming fire doors, inadequate fire alarm systems, deteriorated piping and plumbing systems, insufficient electrical systems, and inadequate fire sprinkler protection.

Re-opening Sampson will add 182 beds to campus, which is likely to give a boost to FAMU’s six-year graduation rate. Housing helps students afford more credit hours by cutting down the cost of living. Campus housing rental rates are usually much cheaper than private-owned apartments. Students also save money by using campus meal plans and walking to class instead of driving. That leaves them with more dollars to spend on courses.

You might also be interested in: FAMU seeking federal grants to help renovate Sampson and Young

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

FAMU seeking federal grants to help renovate Sampson and Young


Note: This is the third and final part of Rattler Nation’s special report on “Dorms and Degrees.”

FAMU has applied for federal funds to assist it in renovating Sampson and Young Halls. If awarded, the money will go a long way toward paying the estimated $13.2M price tag required to bring those two dormitories back up to code.

The university is targeting federal dollars offered by the HBCU Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) run by the National Park Service. Since its establishment in 1966, HPF has provided millions to help HBCUs renovate historical buildings that are in dire need of repair.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated an additional $15 million to HPF for up to 45 awards ranging from $100,000 to $2.5 million.

Sampson (1938) and Young (1929) Halls were both built during the Great Depression and would benefit greatly from the stimulus grants. A 2003 FAMU housing study cited a number of serious problems in the two buildings that include: nonconforming fire doors, inadequate fire alarm systems, deteriorated piping and plumbing systems, insufficient electrical systems, and inadequate fire sprinkler protection.

FAMU closed the two dormitories in 2003 due to the various code violations.

FAMU currently has only 2,484 on-campus beds for a student body that is expected to surpass 12,000 this year. Sampson would add 182 beds and Young would add 94, bringing the campus total up to 2760.

Financing housing renovations is a big challenge in the State University System. The legislature does not appropriate funds for housing construction or maintenance. The State of Florida used to make bonds available for these types of projects in the past, but is not doing so at this time due to budget constraints. FAMU is exploring private bank loan options in addition to its application for HPF money.

Re-opening Sampson and Young would likely give a boost to FAMU’s six-year graduation rate. Housing helps students afford more credit hours by cutting down the cost of living. Campus housing rental rates are usually much cheaper than private-owned apartments. Students also save money by using campus meal plans and walking to class instead of driving. That leaves them with more dollars to spend on courses.

Back when FAMU opened the Palmetto Street South (1993) and Phase III (1997) apartment complexes, lower division students (those with fewer than 60 credit hours) began taking heavier course loads.

President James Ammons recently announced that he’d like to see Sampson and Young renovated and re-opened by 2010. The university is in negotiations with Premier Construction to carry out the project.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

SUS housing shortage a big factor behind grad rate differences


Note: This is part two of Rattler Nation's three-part special report on "Dorms and Degrees."

The State University System of Florida does a pathetic job of housing its students. The Florida legislature constantly requires universities to expand their enrollments but does not pay for housing construction.

Considering the scarcity of on-campus housing in the SUS it’s no surprise that UF, which has a wealthy student body, is on top of the graduation rate list. The average family income for UF students is about $105,000 and only 22.1 percent receive Pell Grants. Most FAMU students come from families that make $30,000 or less. FAMU is also the only SUS member at which most students receive Pell Grants, with a total of 65.3 percent.

It’s easy for most UF students to call their parents and get extra money for rent, car gas, and food when prices go up. The majority of FAMU students can’t do that. That's why most FAMU students have to take smaller course loads whenever the cost of college increases. Smaller courses loads hurt the university's six-year graduation rate. If FAMU had more campus housing, the cost of education would be lower and students could take more classes.

UF and FSU are also the two public universities that have the highest six-year black graduation rates (70.8 and 68 percent respectively in 2007). Both have decreased the cost of educating black students at their institutions. The Gators permitted their black freshman enrollment to drop by 27 percent in Fall 2008 while the Noles let theirs go down by 15 percent.

An important question needs to answered: Are UF and FSU strategically placing a high percentage of their dwindling black student populations in on-campus housing? If those two universities have big percentages of blacks in on-campus housing, that would be another important factor behind their high six-year graduation rates for African Americans. Housing cuts down the cost of living and helps students afford more credit hours.

Florida’s newspapers don’t ever look at this issue when they compare black graduation rates across the system.

Click on graphic to enlarge.

Data Sources: Ed Trust and Campus Explorer.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Housing gives boost to HBCU six-year grad rates


Note: This is part one in Rattler Nation’s three-part special report on “Dorms and Degrees.”

The historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that exceeded the national average six-year graduation rate in 2007 (53 percent) tended to have something in common: they housed the majority of their students on-campus.

Arkansas Baptist has perfect grad rate

Arkansas Baptist College, a private Little Rock institution that serves about 600 students, led all HBCUs with a perfect 100 percent six-year degree baccalaureate completion rate. It houses 56 percent of its student body on campus.

President Fitz Hill also calls attention to the fact that the college offers “one of the most affordable tuitions in Arkansas.” 79.2 percent receive Pell Grants, which shows why it’s important to keep attendance costs low.

Spelman, Morehouse, Howard, and Fisk’s on-campus housing percentages ranged from 52 percent to 97 percent. All those institutions have six-year graduation rates that meet or exceed the national average. However, family income levels also play a very important role at those schools’ graduation rates. At all those colleges, less than half the student body receives Pell Grants. That means that those students’ parents are in a better position to help them pay for credit hours and finish quickly.

ECSU leads all public HBCUs

Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina topped all public HBCUs with its 50.7 percent six-year graduation rate. It houses 59 percent of its students. 69.9 percent of its students receive Pell Grants.

At a recent HBCU conference in the nation’s capital, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted ECSU as an example of an HBCU that offers a strong model for others to follow.

Unlike the Florida legislature, North Carolina lawmakers pay for housing construction at public universities such as ECSU. ECSU is also leasing rooms at the “Microtel” motel close to campus in order to provide even more beds for students. The university adjusted its shuttle routes to serve the motel and provided microwaves and refrigerators for the students living there.

FAMU performs comparatively well

FAMU actually performed well among the HBCUs that have very little housing. FAMU only has enough beds to house 20 percent of its students on campus. But even with that problem, it managed to post a higher six-year graduation rate than many other HBCUs that have more campus beds and lower percentages of Pell Grant recipients.

While speaking to HBCU presidents, Duncan warned that “just like other institutions of higher education, HBCUs cannot explain away big differences in graduation rates simply by reference to the usual suspects. The management practices of those colleges have to be part of the explanation -- and part of the solution.”

Below are two examples of common practices that many HBCUs will have to address in addition to housing shortages.

Poorly thought-out tuition policies

FAMU is an example of an HBCU at which the Board of Trustees is harming the graduation rate with its poor policy decisions. FAMU’s housing shortage makes college very expensive for the student body. Most FAMU students come from families that make $30,000 or less per year. But the BOT simply ignores that fact and continues to approve big tuition and fee hikes that students can’t afford. That forces most FAMU students to take smaller course loads, which slows down their progress toward graduation.

Open-admissions policies

Texas Southern University, which has an 11.6 percent six-year graduation, needs more than just additional campus beds. That’s why the university ended its previous open-admission policy last year.

Now all Texas Southern applicants are required to graduate from high school with a minimum 2.0 GPA and take the ACT and/or SAT (no minimum score). Students who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class will be automatically admitted. Any student who does not meet the University’s minimum requirements will still have the opportunity to enroll at the after successfully completing a conditional summer academic program.

These changes are sure to raise Texas Southern’s graduation rate in the future.

Data Sources: Ed Trust and Campus Explorer.

Click on chart to enlarge

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

FAMU places 800 students in off-campus housing


The FAMUan reports that FAMU has placed about 800 students in off-campus apartments. Administrators also renegotiated the Venom Express busing contract with the city in order to provide routes that are convenient for those young men and women.

During freshman move-in week, FAMU’s housing shortage made big headlines. The housing department received about 3,300 applications for its 2,484 beds, meaning that 816 prospective students could not live on-campus. Officials capped the waiting list at 200.

The off-campus housing locations include University Courtyard, Adams Pointe, and Down Under.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Housing expansion essential to raising grad rate


Data from FAMU and State University System annual fact books shows that campus housing expansion is vital to improving the university’s six-year graduation rate.

Back when FAMU opened the Palmetto Street South (1993) and Phase III (1997) apartment complexes, lower division students (those with fewer than 60 credit hours) began taking heavier course loads. Each of the new facilities housed 360 students, which brought a total of 720 new living spaces to campus.

The average lower division student credit hour load rose from 13.9 in 1994 to a peak of 14.2 in 1997.

Housing helps students afford more credit hours by cutting down the cost of living. Campus housing rental rates are usually much cheaper than private-owned apartments. Students also save money by using campus meal plans and walking to class instead of driving. That leaves them with more dollars to spend on courses.

Since 1997, FAMU’s lower division course loads have dropped like a rock. The State of Florida required FAMU to continuously increase its enrollment, but the university did not build any new housing complexes for the thousands of new students. Housing is an auxiliary department that cannot receive state money.

The problem got even worse from 2003 to 2004. During those years, FAMU closed Sampson Hall (1938), Young Hall (1929), and Polkinghorne Apartments (1966). All those facilities were old structures that had serious building code/safety problems. The closures took away a total of 409 beds.

FAMU’s leasing contract with University Gardens and Cottages of Magnolia did little to help the problem of decreasing student course loads. The two facilities added 669 beds to FAMU housing. However, they were more expensive than the regular dormitories or apartments.

In 2003, each Cottages room cost $2,284. A single at Gardens cost $2,284 and a double cost $1,980.

In comparison, a single at Phase III was only $1,925 and a double was only $1,714. A double at Cropper Hall or Wheatley Hall only cost $1,517.

FAMU terminated its contract for Cottages and Gardens in 2005, losing the 669 beds. The leaser, Booth Properties, later sued and received a $1.5 million settlement for the remaining three years left on the contract.

In 2007, FAMU’s average lower division credit hour load was just 13.5. Currently, FAMU students usually take smaller course loads in response to rising college costs such as tuition hikes. Housing is critical to reducing living costs and helping students take heavier course loads so they can graduate within six years.

FAMU's current six-year graduation rate is 41 percent.

The Student Housing Comprehensive Master Plan approved by FAMU’s Board of Trustees in 2004 calls for the university to have a total of 4,231 beds by Spring 2015. The top priorities are: demolishing Polkinghorne, building Phase IV Suites at the former Polkinghorne site, building Phase V-B (south of Phase III), and building Phase V-A (south of Palmetto South).

Pictured: Polkinghorne Apartments, closed since 2004.

Monday, August 18, 2008

No vacancies !


Many students are returning to campus only to find that there is "no room at the inn". FAMU housing officials are experiencing a housing shortage brought on by an increasing number of students wanting to stay on campus and the fact that no new dorm rooms have been built in the past 8 years. The housing crisis is particularly severe for Black males wanting to live on campus with Sampson and Young Halls being closed.

As of Friday, there was a growing waiting list of about 100 males seeking housing and 35 female students.

Dorm officials have scampered to try to add beds to meet the increased demand, by adding a third bed to some rooms in Paddyfoote. "Really, there's only so much we can do," said one Housing official.