Last updated on April 6th, 2020 at 11:03 am
Lakeland University has received a $35.4 million federal loan to fund the construction of two new residence halls and refinance its existing long-term debt.
The project will be the largest-ever investment in its rural Sheboygan County main campus, the university said.
Lakeland plans to use $26 million to build two identical residence halls for freshmen and sophomores, a water tower and related infrastructure.
The new facilities will replace four existing residence halls: A.M. Krueger, Muehlmeier, Friedli and Hofer (the Suites). They will be built on the site of two existing buildings, Grosshuesch and Muehlmeier, which will be demolished, along with the Suites. The future of A.M. Krueger has not yet been determined.
The new halls will include 396 beds, up from the current 291 beds in the facilities they will replace. The university expects to open one of the new residence halls in fall 2022, and the other in fall 2023.
The remaining $9.4 million will be used to refinance its long-term debt.
The university said it learned Thursday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development awarded the loan.
“In light of the uneasiness we are all feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a transformational investment that is the best possible news for Lakeland,” said president David Black. “This will be Lakeland’s single most comprehensive project and physical investment in a main campus that was founded in 1862. And, coupled with the recent multi-million dollar renovations of the Younger Family Campus Center and Taylor Field and the advent of our Cooperative Education program, this investment will position Lakeland for future growth for decades to come.”
Black said the university’s current freshmen and sophomore residence halls are in need of significant deferred maintenance.
The USDA funds are designed to develop essential community facilities and foster economic growth and development in rural communities.
As private liberal arts colleges struggle with declining enrollment, Lakeland has worked to differentiate itself in recent years with its co-op model, which places students in jobs with area companies to gain professional work experience while also earning college credit and wages to defray their tuition cost.
In addition to working with about 85 employer partners, university officials are considering a potential development on 80 acres of farmland on the campus to create more job opportunities for students. Options could include developing a business park or an innovation center, or putting the land up for sale to gauge interest from other developers.
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