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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

Student Housing Weighing Options to Generate Revenue

Written by: Mikaela ConleyDecember 07, 2016

The recent USAP recommendations didn’t just include proposals about degree programs: it made suggestions about multiple different aspects of the current state of the campus.

The agenda for the Nov. 14 meeting of the Fort Wayne Senate highlighted a summary of what USAP had proposed, including adopting policies to maximize revenue in student housing.

According to Action Plan 41, this included a Request for Quotation to do market analysis of alternative uses of the buildings and to generate additional and rental revenue during the summer.

The maximum occupancy of housing is 1,204, while the current occupancy is 920, including 31 contracted staff members.

According to George McClellan, vice chancellor for student affairs, the earliest buildings built during the first two waves of construction were flourishing but problems began when the third wave was built. The same time the third section opened, the recession hit and multiple other housing opportunities close to campus opened up.

“For the most part, housing breaks even,” McClellan said. “There is a modest university subsidy, something like a $300,000 net loss, which means we underwrite housing.”

However, if the university didn’t have to underwrite housing, it would have money for other things, McClellan said.

A request for information was put in to gather public views of putting a senior living learning center in one of the buildings to help with the occupancy issue.

According to McClellan, this would not be like an assisted living center.

The center would “have seniors who as part of their rent would be able to take X number of classes at university and could be either for credit if they wanted to apply for a degree program or could be credit but non degree seeking,” he said.

While McClellan said none of the details are set in stone, the request for information came back with positive statements from the community, saying this is something that would benefit both IPFW and Fort Wayne.

A request for proposals, for people to bid on operating the center, will be submitted soon after the holidays, he said.

McCellan said this center would be an opportunity to benefit both the current students and the seniors.

For example, nursing students could learn to work with seniors and practice skills such as taking blood pressure and giving shots. Music therapy students, counseling students and more could benefit.

“Imagine if you were a retiree and you can live around young people, in an environment that’s pretty safe,” he said. “And it connects to these curriculum offerings for us so our students get really cool chances to learn from and with these seniors and we fill up a building.”

“Options such as leasing a building or potentially selling a building for this alternate use have been discussed, but will need a more defined scope to determine viability based upon financial regulations related to the debt issued for the construction of the facilities,” according to the Fort Wayne Senate agenda.

The idea of thematic housing buildings, such as an honors building or housing by major, was also suggested.

McClellan mentioned ideas such as a sobriety floor, silent floor, or a floor of residents interested in similiar issues.