The University houses 4,450 student residents in more than a dozen residence halls and apartments. About 50 percent of those residents are freshman.
The number of freshman living on campus will increase even more in fall 2009.
As part of a new USF policy, incoming freshman who are under the age of 21 and live outside of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties will be required to live on campus for one full school year. The only exceptions are students who are in the military or have other extenuating circumstances.
USF’s move is part of a plan to gain Carnegie Institute “Primarily Residential” status, which requires that 25 to 49 percent of students live on campus.
Tom Kane, dean of housing and residential education, said he expects this new policy to add another 500 residents.
“The reason we are moving to mandatory housing for freshmen is that research shows that students who live on campus their freshman year typically complete more coursework, are more involved with their academics and the community, have a more favorable view of their college experience, and are more likely to graduate in a timely manner,” Kane said.
With an increase in graduation rates, USF will be closer to its goal of joining the AAU.
To accommodate the growing number of resident students, Residence Services plans to open a new 1,000-bed Magnolia complex in fall 2009.
“Admissions did a survey with prospective students, and the results showed this new policy had very little negative impact on recruitment and actually showed some students saw this as a very positive move away from our commuter reputation,” Kane said.
Kane said Residence Services plans to give upperclassmen who wish to continue to live on campus priority over incoming freshmen when the new policy is implemented.
“We hope to have enough housing for both new and returning students,” Kane said.
Residence Services is not the only department preparing for 500 extra residents.
Manuel Lopez, director of parking and transportation, said the Richard A. Beard Parking Facility was built in anticipation of the increased number of residents.
“From a parking service perspective, it’s a matter of more cars on campus,” Lopez said. “Hopefully they will park and use alternative transportation like the Bull Runner, bikes or walking rather than moving their cars.”
There are 2,600 resident parking spaces located near the residence halls. Lopez said Parking Services will probably expand this number, but has yet to determine the number of new spots.
The University requires that some incoming freshmen, depending on where they live on campus, purchase a meal plan from Dining Services.
According to Aramark, USF’s dining service provider, there is no cap on the amount of meal plans the dining facilities will be able to handle.
The new Magnolia residence hall includes a Magnolia dining hall and a retail space, which will also open in fall 2009.
Tom Williamson, USF Dining Services resident district manager, said Dining Services is expanding to prepare for the growing campus population.
With the new Phyllis P. Marshall Center opening, Williamson said there will be more dining options, including Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Moe’s and Sbarro.
Dining Services is also conducting surveys to determine if the hours of operation in each facility are accommodating the needs of students.
“USF Dining Services is continually surveying the students, faculty and staff that visit our locations to determine the best possible times to accommodate their schedules,” Williamson said. “We feel that we are prepared to handle the exciting new initiatives coming to the USF campus.”
Kane said issues surrounding the new freshmen resident policy should subside after the first year of its implementation.
“In fact, I hope that it will be successful to the point that parents from the three counties (Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas) will want their sons and daughters to live on campus to experience the benefits and community,” Kane said.