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New USF residential hall at the Sarasota-Manatee campus to open in August

A live camera of construction of Sarasota-Manatees’ first residential hall shows the building on July 2. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF LIVE CONSTRUCTION FEED

USF Sarasota-Manatee will open its first residential hall in late August, joining Tampa and St. Pete as a residential campus

With a $43.95 million price tag, the new building will serve as both a student center and residential hall. It will open on Aug. 23, the Friday before fall classes begin.

The dorm will allow students to be more involved in campus life and build a stronger community, according to Ana Hernandez, associate vice president for Housing and Residential Education at USF.

The new residential hall is named Atala Hall, chosen through a vote by students and faculty from stakeholder-approved names. The name is in reference to the Atala butterfly, a rare species native to the Sarasota-Manatee area meant to represent the students of the campus, according to Hernandez. 

“Our unique students come to the Sarasota-Manatee campus for a short while to live, learn and grow and then they fly away to their next adventure,” Hernandez said. 

Related: As Sarasota-Manatee’s first dorm applications open, are students ready to commit? – The Oracle 

What does this mean for students?

With the new dorms, students will have access to living learning communities where they can interact and live with other students in their major. 

These are provided through the partnership between housing and three colleges on campus: the Muma College of Business, the College of Education and the Judy Genshaft Honors College, according to Hernandez. 

Students will also get a chance to shape campus culture through their interests and activities, according to Karen Holbrook, the Sarasota-Manatee campus regional chancellor. 

“Students, faculty and staff are very closely connected and we never want to lose that sense of belonging,” Holbrook said. 

The six-floor building also features a gaming area, dining hall, lounge space, a bookstore and a grand ballroom to host events.

Dorm types and layouts

There are a total of 200 beds in the new residential building with the dorms being sectioned off on floors 3-6, only available to residents, according to Hernandez. 

Related: As Sarasota-Manatee’s first dorm applications open, are students ready to commit? – The Oracle 

The west tower of Atala Hall houses 70 rooms or 140 beds in double-suite-style dorms, meant for two students with a bathroom in the unit. The east tower houses 20 apartment-style dorms, which are equipped with a shared living room and kitchenette space and a full-sized fridge, sink and microwave, according to Hernandez. 

To put that in perspective, while Sarasota-Manatee services about 15,000 students from all three campuses, there are about 2,000 permanent Sarasota-Manatee campus residents. This means that Atala Hall can house about 10% of the campus population, according to Holbrook.

Cost to students 

A double-suite-style dorm costs $10,376 per academic year, apartment-style dorms range from $12,040 to $13,184 and the suite style is $14,008 per academic year.

These rates are much higher compared to both the St. Pete and Tampa campuses. A four bed/two bath apartment-style dorm, for example, will run students $9,714 at the Tampa campus and $9,762 at the St. Pete campus compared to the $12,040 price tag at the Sarasota-Manatee campus

Hernandez also mentioned scholarships for students who choose to dorm on campus to help ease the financial burden of living away from home. 

”We were able to offer scholarships to students living on campus and those were for $4,000 scholarships over the course of the two semesters,” Hernandez said.

These scholarships will be available during the academic year, but not over the summer of 2025. 

Atala Hall has not reached capacity yet and applications for dorms and scholarships are still open as of June 26. Students from all three campuses are able to apply and live on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The next steps for the campus are to “live into” the space that is currently available, according to Hernandez.

The next big construction project undertaken will be the Nursing and STEM building when the appropriate funds are obtained, according to Holbrook. The 2023-24 state budget saw vetoes for funding of some university projects, one of those being a $20 million cut to the Nursing and STEM building.

“We have lots of ambition to build a campus that will provide programs unique to the demographics of this area and to advance the lives and futures of our students,” Holbrook said.