University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols pushed the need to upgrade aging dorms before the UW Board of Trustees at a recent meeting. She wrapped up her presentation on the implementation of the university’s strategic plan by telling the trustees that housing needs to be a top consideration.
“We don't ever want to get into the situation of having 50-year-old buildings that haven’t been upgraded. We should be upgrading buildings every 5 to 10 years. Because we’ll find it to be a real deterrent to the university in terms of growing enrollment if we don’t get after it soon.”
Nichols also encouraged the trustees to pay close attention to the work being done by the state’s joint task force on UW student housing; comprised of lawmakers as well as university officials. She expressed concern that if action wasn’t taken soon, aging residence halls could begin to impact the enrollment and retention of students.
Speaker of the House Steve Harshman, who serves on the task force, agreed.
“Well, I think the new stuff is 60 years old. We literally have grandkids now in the same high rises there. So part of the thing is we have to continually keep reinvesting,” said Harshman.
The task force, charged with exploring finance options, is considering issuing UW a low-interest loan to cover construction costs. Harshman said the state routinely loans money to public entities that need to improve infrastructure. He expects a draft bill will be ready for the 2019 legislative session.