New dorm construction at UM near complete

Construction of the University of Montevallo’s newest and nameless residence hall is on schedule for its Aug. 26 opening, according to officials.

“We’re hoping to name the building some time in the near future,” said John Denson, UM director of housing and residence life.

The residence hall will house 154 students and residence life staffers in 42 four-bedroom suites. Each suite features two private bathrooms, a living room area and an efficiency kitchen furnished with a refrigerator, microwave, sink and cabinets. The four-story building will accommodate both freshmen and upperclassmen.

David Pritchett, director of the university’s Physical Plant, said the 11-month project cost $8.5 million. The figure includes furniture and utilities.

“We still got a lot of work to do to the exterior, things like paving and general cleanup,” Pritchett said. “We’re finishing the odds and ends that you have to finish up during a construction project.”

Once students are moved in, Denson said the university will launch a new program designed to get faculty and staff more involved in the on-campus experience.

Faculty members will be assigned to each floor as student advisers, and each will have office hours there. A classroom built inside the residence hall will be the site of the university’s Freshman First-Year Experience course.

“They will create activities and so forth for residents who live on that floor,” Denson said of the faculty. “The goal is to have a lot of interaction with a faculty member outside the classroom.”

The near completion of the residence hall could inspire the university to restore its older living spaces.

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Vestavia Hills) announced last week he has obtained $150,000 in a House bill for renovation to Main Hall, UM’s oldest and largest residence hall. Constructed in 1897, the building has three sections and houses 285 female students.

Pritchett said $150,000 will go far in restoring part of Main Hall, however, funding is short for a complete renovation.

“We’d really love to renovate the building next year if we could, but we don’t have the money for it right now,” Pritchett said.