BELLEVILLE — Weeks before the opening of a new dorm under construction on its campus, Lindenwood-Belleville President Jerry Bladdick announced plans Wednesday for a second student residence hall.
"We are thrilled with our Board of Directors' decision to approve the construction of a second residence hall, which will enable us to better accommodate our growing residential student population," Bladdick said.
"Currently, we have over 600 students living on campus. When the women's dormitory is completed in December, our housing capacity will total around 800, and the new men's dorm will give us the ability to house 1,000 students on campus by fall 2014."
Bladdick said the new dorm will be built across West Main Street from the campus on the former site of the New Freedom Baptist Church.
Lindenwood purchased the former church in 2012 and demolished it in the spring. The school investigated the idea of renovating the old church, but after acquiring the property found the building to be full of mold and seriously damaged by the effects of a leaky roof. It was determined it would be too costly to rehab the church, so it was decided to use the land instead for much-needed student housing space.
The new dorm is expected to be very similar to the one being completed on South 23rd Street behind the Illinois State Police crime lab, which is also under construction. The first dorm covers 25,000 square feet, cost about $4 million to build and can handle 180 students.
About 1,900 students attend Lindenwood Belleville, which opened 10 years ago on the former campus of Belleville Township High School West. About 1,040 of them are full-time day students. The school recently dedicated a new communication center and turned the high school cafeteria into the Sen. Alan Dixon Student Center. Bladdick said Lindenwood hopes to eventually reach 1,200 full-time day students and 2,400 students overall on the Belleville campus.
"Who could have imagined that, 10 years ago, an old, abandoned high school would now be home to almost 2,000 students from countless states and more than 30 countries around the globe?" Bladdick asked. "Who could have imagined the economic impact that Lindenwood would have on southwestern Illinois, and specifically the city of Belleville, or the jobs that have been created and education opportunities that have been conceived?"
The Belleville campus now has more than 80 full-time and part-time faculty and staff members.
Lindenwood has spent about $25 million to renovate and expand the former high school campus. Projects include $8 million for the two new dorms, $2 million to buy the former Travel Lodge motel on West Main Street and another $1 million to buy 20 houses which are used as student housing, $2 million for renovations to the campus football stadium, $1.2 million to create the communications center, $1 million for the student center improvements, and several hundred thousand dollars spent on landscaping and cosmetic work.
The women's dorm is expected to open to students Dec. 1 and be in use by the time the spring semester starts in January.
The Lindenwood Board of Directors met Friday in St. Charles to approve the new dorm plans. At the same time, the board gave the green light to four new athletic programs for Lindenwood-Belleville.
Men's and women's ice hockey and men's and women's swimming and diving will begin to compete during the 2014-2015 academic year. The new additions will bring the total number of sports offerings at Lindenwood Belleville up to 27.
"Adding ice hockey and swimming and diving shows our commitment to having a high-quality athletic department at Lindenwood Belleville," said Scott Spinner, director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Lindenwood Belleville. "We will be hiring coaches and starting recruiting for the new programs immediately."
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