July 13, 2011 12:00AM
Pittsburg State University is on pace to set a student housing record for the fall semester and university officials couldn't be happier.
Dr. Steve Erwin, associate vice-president for campus life and auxiliary services, said the number of housing contracts coming into the university has been significantly higher this summer.
"Typically we see 10 to 12 contracts per week during June and July," Erwin said. "This summer we've seen that number reach as high as 30 per week. The numbers will fluctuate quite a bit before the semester starts, but at this point I feel very good about breaking last year's housing record of 1,201 students."
University officials are attributing the increase in housing numbers to several factors, including a recent push to renovate residence halls.
"We're halfway through our six-year, $12 million residential hall renovation plan," explained Dr. Erwin. "We've already renovated two halls and are completing Tanner Hall as we speak. In addition, we opened the $10 million Crimson Commons apartment complex last year. We've made a major commitment to modernize our student housing, and it's extremely gratifying to see students responding to the improvements."
An additional factor in the increase may be the success of the Gorilla Advantage program, which offers in-state tuition to qualified students in contiguous counties outside of Kansas.
"The Gorilla Advantage program has been a great success for our campus," said Dr. Bill Ivy, associate vice president of enrollment management and student success. "Our numbers continue to increase, and we're seeing a great response from students in the northwest Arkansas region. It's likely that at least a portion of the increase is coming from these students, which is great for our campus and our community."
If the number of student housing contracts continues at its current pace, university officials say those who procrastinate may not get their room of choice. "We're hopeful that we'll be able to find room for everyone," said Dr. Erwin. "But I wouldn't recommend waiting until the last minute. We're able to house just over 1,300 and right now it looks like we'll be using every room we have. It's a challenging time for our housing staff, but I think it shows just how attractive Pittsburg State is throughout the region."