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Wilberforce University adding dorms to keep up with increasing enrollment

Campus sign made of concrete "Wilberforce" with seal above. Shrubs and trees surrounding
Tana Weingartner
/
WVXU

Wilberforce University is breaking ground Friday on the first residence hall of a 10 dormitory complex. The school — the nation's first private historically Black university — says a jump in enrollment is driving the new construction.

"We have a 29% increase of new students this year, and our retention rates are going up," says President Vann R. Newkirk. "We can see that this is going to be not a one-term growth rate, but a long term process that is happening."

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He says 13,000 people applied for the 2023-2024 school year, whereas that number was around 2,000 people 10 years ago.

Those increases come with a demand for more on-campus housing.

Wilberforce selected prefabricated residence halls to speed up the construction timeline; the first dorm is slated to be completed by December with the first students moving in in January.

Once all 10 are built, "we'll have about 600 spaces on campus," says Newkirk. "That's going to double our housing capacity."

The new dorms, he says, will come with lots of amenities.

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"These are not typical residential halls. They have all the amenities of living at home, like washer-dryer connections. We want our students to feel like they are coming to college but they're coming to a new home and these dorms have all of the amenities of a home."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.