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University of Kentucky addresses record enrollment, along with increased desire for campus housing

By Jay Blanton
University of Kentucky

Expected record enrollment this fall and an increasing number of students choosing to live on campus have resulted in a temporary capacity issue in University of Kentucky residence halls.

But over the last few days, UK officials — working closely with student resident advisors — have developed a plan that will enable all students, who want to live on campus, to have a housing assignment for the start of the academic year. UK’s new residence halls, in fact, were built with the capacity to convert high-quality space into additional rooms, if the need arose.

(Photo by Mark Cornelison, University of Kentucky)

“We’ve worked closely with our resident advisors, and taken their important insights, to arrive at solutions that maintain our commitment to provide our students with the best living and learning experience possible,” said Penny Cox, associate vice president for administration, who oversees housing at UK. “We have among the finest residence halls in the country. We know students who live on campus — for one and, preferably, two years — do better academically and socially. This capacity issue, while a temporary challenge, reflects the growing perception of the value of a UK degree and the knowledge of how campus living contributes to student success.”

Specifically, following the end of first-year student orientation July 12, UK determined that there were about 400 more applications for student housing than residence hall beds. Any student who applied, enrolled and received a housing assignment prior to May 1 — the national enrollment deadline — would not be impacted. But there are large numbers of students who applied after that date, or who indicated they wanted to come to UK, but still hadn’t ultimately confirmed for housing.

UK’s plan to address the housing issue includes:

• Spaces in several residence halls reserved for resident advisors (RAs) will be converted into rooms that can house an RA and a first-year student. RAs are being provided with additional benefits, such as free laundry and additional compensation. They already receive a free room and a special meal plan. RA converted rooms also were utilized in 2014 and 2015 to alleviate a capacity challenge. As spaces become available during the semester, first-year students and RAs will be offered the opportunity to move.

• Multi-purpose rooms — that are equipped with bathrooms and showers — will be converted in two halls into resident spaces. These rooms were designed with this potential conversion in mind. Photos of these rooms can be viewed here.

• Some students who had indicated that they would return to resident housing this year are being offered comparable space, at basically the same rates, in the new complex, The Hub, which is located above the Target store on South Upper Street. UK and Core Realty, the owner of The Hub, negotiated a land swap in 2017. A limited number of these rentals are being offered.

• UK also will, if necessary, utilize spaces in Greek houses that are under capacity for the coming year. Whether that option is utilized will be determined in the next few days, Cox said.

“Our resident advisors have been tremendous partners and student leaders throughout this process,” said Kirsten Turner, associate provost for Student and Academic Life. “They are heavily invested in — and committed to — student success. We are deeply appreciative that they helped us address this challenge in a way that ensures all students living on campus continue to have a distinctive and exemplary living and learning experience. We are excited for the fall and for a record class to come to their new campus home.”

UK expects a record first-year enrollment this fall. Currently, enrollment among first-year students is at 5,450. In addition, nearly 2,500 students indicated a desire to live in campus housing as returning or graduate students — also a record number. In the last five years, UK has constructed more than 6,800 residence hall beds as part of a massive transformation and revitalization of the campus. More than $450 million has been invested in 14 new residence halls. All UK residence halls are less than 15 years of age. UK research has demonstrated that students who live on campus have higher GPAs, are retained at higher rates and, ultimately, are more likely to graduate on time.

In the last eight years alone, under UK President Eli Capilouto and at the direction of the Board of Trustees, more than $2.4 billion has been invested in campus infrastructure, from classroom buildings and research spaces to athletics facilities.

You can read answers to commonly asked questions about the housing issue at this site.

Jay Blanton is the Executive Director of University of Kentucky Public Relations and Marketing

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