TWU puts expansion plans on hold

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Texas Woman’s University is putting some of its building plans on hold.

The TWU Board of Regents met Nov. 16 and decided to remove three items from the agenda that would allow the university to move forward with building a residence hall, two parking garages and a student union.

In light of recent proposals from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, TWU has decided to pause, consider, study and then recommend the items to the regents, said TWU Chancellor and President Ann Stuart, who announced her retirement at the meeting.

“The coordinating board is suggesting prudence fiscally,” she said.

The board recently made recommendations for the upcoming state legislative session, including proposing a method of funding based on student outcomes, according to a news release.

The board also proposed to offer a rebate incentive to get more students to graduate on time. The proposal would decrease the credit threshold for when state funding would be eliminated and when students would be charged higher tuition, the release stated. Currently, students can go 30 credits over the typical 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree before state funding is eliminated and they are charged higher tuition. The proposed change would cut that limit in half.

Stuart said TWU wants to be considerate and thoughtful about how it goes forward.

“It’s just good management,” she said.

The regents were planning to consider soliciting proposals for the design of up to two parking structures for the Denton campus, soliciting proposals for design of a new residence hall and approving the increase of the student union fee to $149 a semester.

“We feel like it’s best to take a look at these,” said Richard Nicholas, vice president for student life at TWU, adding that university officials want to look at the timetable for each.

It may be on the board’s next agenda in February, Nicholas said.

It is not necessarily a delay, he said, but rather a reorganization of timing. TWU needs to know what’s coming from the Legislature before undertaking certain projects, he said.

The proposed residence hall would help the university keep up with its growing enrollment. Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, and TWU has found itself with a housing shortage.

To keep up with the growth, TWU leased three apartment complexes from Scott Brown Properties last year, including Bent Tree Apartments at 1000 N. Bell Ave., Lone Star Apartments at 600 Texas St. and Austin Place Apartments at 1005 N. Austin St.

This year, the university leased up to 100 rooms from Quality Inn and Suites, located on Dallas Drive.

During a meeting for students Nov. 14, Don Strickland, director of design and construction, showed the draft plan with a possible location for the proposed residence hall. It would be near Jones Hall, an old residence hall that TWU officials have decided cannot be renovated. A parking garage also is proposed for that area.

The other parking structure TWU is considering would go in an existing parking lot between Oakland and Austin avenues, according to the draft development plan.

During the meeting, Strickland showed students two possible locations for the proposed student union. It could go either on Bell Avenue in front of Jones Hall or across from Pioneer Hall, Strickland told students.

Nicholas said the location suggestions came from a preliminary design team.

“It comes down to what the campus prefers,” he said.

Students voted in October to increase the union fee.

The union fee will have to be approved by the Legislature before TWU can move forward with building and it has to get permission to build from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Nicholas said.

“We don’t want to get a project half in and half out,” he said.

There has been some community concern about the land TWU is acquiring on the southeast side of campus, but none of the proposed buildings in TWU’s draft plan is planned for that area.

TWU officials have said there are no plans for that area.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com.


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