SoRo first in line for renovations

By Madison Ferril


South Russell Residence Hall will officially close down for renovations this summer, but tuition for the 2013-2014 year will not increase due to the construction.

The Baylor Board of Regents authorized $12 million for the refurbishment process at its meeting on Friday. The residence hall will be closed next year and work is expected to be finished in 2014.

Jackson said the money for the project came from a percentage built into student housing rates for hall maintenance.

“Tuition and fees are already set for next year,” Jackson said. “What we are doing will not increase tuition rates for next year. We are doing this with allocated funds. It’s not an add-on.”

The Baylor Board of Regents approved the funding for South Russell at their meeting on Friday.

Lori Fogleman, Director of Media Communications said with the addition of East Village and University Parks to campus housing, Baylor will be able to provide adequate housing for freshmen next academic year even though South Russell will be closed.

“We will be taking 280 beds offline, but the improvements to South Russell will make it worthwhile,” Fogleman said.

After South Russell, the next hall that will be renovated is North Russell Hall.

“We’re starting with South Russell because it is a smaller hall to refurbish,” Jackson said. “It is too early to determine who will be housed there when it comes back online in 2014.”

Jackson said as Campus Living and Learning works on South Russell, they will take what is learned and apply it to the plans for North Russell.

“We will be doing refurbishments one at a time,” Jackson said.

Dr. Jeff Doyle, dean for student learning and engagement, said the renovated South Russell will include new furniture, additional study and social spaces, and wireless Internet throughout the entire hall. The hall will also contain 15 single rooms.

“We want to think carefully about what students want,” Doyle said. “At this point, there are several directions we could go, including a living-learning center or a residential college.”

Doyle said 12 to 15 different factors were used to guide the decision to improve South Russell, including cost, safety issues and retention rates.

Jackson said he is looking forward to establishing a final design and beginning the renovations.

“We are very excited about the refurbishment plan,” Jackson said. “We think it’s going to impact students in a positive way and we are looking for broad levels of input from students, faculty and staff.”

Myersville, Md. junior Eliza Zolfo said she thinks the refurbishment of South Russell is much needed. Zolfo worked as a community leader in South Russell last year and now works the front desk.

“Baylor is so impressive in every other area, but the halls need updating,” Zolfo said.

Zolfo said she thinks South Russell’s renovation will improve Baylor’s image.

“Baylor Living and Learning has always been focused on community, and I think they’re trying to improve older halls in order to showcase that,” Zolfo said.