published Thursday, August 9th, 2012

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students ready to storm the dorms

Ernest Broderick, left, and Andre Yates, both employees of UTC's housing department, move boxes of mailboxes off a truck in front of the Stagmaier building Wednesday. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is prepping dorm rooms for the return of students to the campus.
Ernest Broderick, left, and Andre Yates, both employees of UTC's housing department, move boxes of mailboxes off a truck in front of the Stagmaier building Wednesday. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is prepping dorm rooms for the return of students to the campus.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

UTC MOVE IN

* Freshmen: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for those living in the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel.

* Upperclassman: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for those living in the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel.

Source: UTC

Resident halls at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have already reached their limits — and the new school year hasn't even officially begun.

"We already know our enrollment has outpaced our current resident hall capacity," said Chuck Cantrell, associate vice chancellor for communication and marketing at UTC. "We're already looking at funding and property placement for new facilities."

The university has made moves to help accommodate this growth, renovating Stagmaier Hall to house about 140 of the almost 3,600 students expected to reside at UTC this fall.

Stagmaier was built as a dormitory but was converted into offices following a move away from the traditional dorm layout to apartment-style campus housing. Because of the recent growth in enrollment, however, and requests by students to return to more traditional dorms, the building was restored to campus housing, Cantrell said.

The Stagmaier renovation is a combination of traditional two-occupant rooms and apartment-style housing with the main difference being that Stagmaier units do not have a kitchen, he said. Most units will house four students in two bedrooms and contain shared common areas and a bathroom.

Every room, however, offers a slightly different layout. Many of the rooms still retain the remnants of the former office building -- built-in bookcases or storage units are present in some of the common areas, offering more storage to lucky residents.

Grant Yost, 18, from Cleveland, Tenn., is one of hundreds of freshmen who will be moving into the UTC dorms next week.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I'm a little nervous about starting [college], but I'm really excited."

Yost will be living in the Lockmiller Apartments on Oak Street. He said he thought he would prefer the apartment-style housing because of the amenities it offered, particularly a kitchen.

Some students will not be as lucky. Even with the newly renovated Stagmaier, the university must house as many as 100 students at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel until housing becomes available for them, Cantrell said. The university will not know the number of students who'll live in the hotel until move-in day, he said.

Last fall, about 170 UTC students were staying at the hotel when fall classes started, newspaper archives show.

Rooms in university housing come available when some who signed up don't show, choosing to live off campus or attend another institution.

Dealing with ever-increasing numbers of students is something UTC expects to do for years to come.

Last month, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved UTC's master plan, which outlines the university's projected enrollment and physical growth. The university is estimated to grow by 4,000 to 7,000 students over the next 15 years, according to the plan, and is expected to reach record numbers for 2012.

"We're anticipating another record enrollment for this year," Cantrell said. "We expect to top over 12,000 students."

In order to support the expected influx of students, the university must add more academic buildings, parking and residential housing. A residential expansion is proposed for areas on Vine Street and M.L. King Boulevard, according to the plan.

However, the plan still needs approval from the Tennessee State Building Commission, and many of the proposed projects are subject to change.

Right now, the university's needs exceed its land holdings. Many of the university's proposed plans are contingent on the availability of land it does not yet possess, Cantrell said.

"[The master plan] helps us set out a physical growth plan to help accommodate our expected growth, but we're still trying to figure out where we can place these things," Cantrell said.

about Rachel Bunn...

Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...

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