With the snip of scissors, Fulton-Montgomery Community College officials Thursday opened a new residence hall and effectively doubled student housing to 288 beds.
The 144 beds in Raider Hall will be available Sunday when students begin moving on campus to start the new semester, much to the relief of college President Dustin Swanger.
“The deadline was the deadline. We could not open in October. A week and a half ago, we weren’t too sure” of making the deadline, he said at a news conference where college officials unveiled the $7 million project.
The conference featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the two-story, modular structure located north of the main campus and opposite an existing 144-bed student apartment complex, called Fulton and Montgomery halls.
Swanger called the dorm project essential to FMCC’s future growth.
“The trend in community colleges is student housing. We are seeing a demand from students both internationally and from out of the county to live on campus,” he said.
The college enrolls approximately 120 students from overseas in its English as a Second Language program. Students also attend FMCC for signature programs in criminal justice, business, nursing, human services and its Center for Engineering and Technology, which offers a clean room.
The college’s auxiliary corporation, the Fulmont College Association, purchased the other privately owned dorms from a Massachusetts company and renovated them at a cost of about $4 million.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program provided 100 percent of the $11.1 million mortgage at a “great rate,” allowing the college association to build the new dorms and buy and renovate the other dorms, Swanger said.
The college association purchased the privately owned dorms because the owners did not want to make improvements suggested by the college, Swanger said. After purchasing the dorms, the group put in new boilers and sprinkler and fire alarm systems and upgraded the rooms.
Swanger said the new dorm is booked and there is a waiting list for rooms. He said without the new dorm, FMCC would have lost some students. They are now an important component of student recruitment, he added.
“Parents are more comfortable leaving their children in a safe environment,” he said.
Bernice Williams of Albany was visiting the new dorm Thursday with her daughter, Alesha Young. Young will be starting her freshman year at FMCC on Monday, studying history and education. She will be staying in Raider Hall. Williams said “the dorms were extremely important” in her daughter’s decision to attend FMCC.
“She does not drive, and she can’t commute,” Williams said.
Young said she wants to live on campus when she attends college and is looking forward to living at FMCC.
“I have friends who go out here. I am excited about living here,” she said, adding it would be her first time away from home for an extended period.
Williams said her daughter will be 45 minutes away should the need arise to visit.
Swanger said with students living on campus, FMCC will maintain its enrollment for the 2012-13 academic year at close to the same level as 2011-12, and this when community colleges are witnessing enrollment declines.
USDA Deputy Undersecretary Doug O’Brien, who attended the news conference, called the $11 million project an example of nationwide collaboration between the federal government and community colleges, which are seeking to expand their student housing stocks.
“This is a fantastic example of what we can do with our partners,” he said.
The USDA has invested $824 million in projects across the nation since 2009, helping provide opportunities in rural communities, O’Brien said.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: