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Plans for new on-campus housing proceed to design stage

Following approval by the Cornell Board of Trustees last summer, the North Campus residential expansion project is now in the early conceptual design phase.

Guided by the findings of the 2016 housing master plan, the project will increase undergraduate student housing, add a dining facility, and consider outdoor recreation fields on North Campus. When finished, the expansion will add about 2,000 beds, enabling the university to house all first-year, sophomore and transfer students on campus while also accommodating future enrollment growth. The project is targeting completion for 2021.

“Recognizing that student life outside the classroom is closely related to educational engagement, our students have indicated great interest in continuing to live on campus during sophomore year,” said President Martha E. Pollack. “This project will meet that need, while also alleviating some pressure on the local housing market.”

The 2016 housing master plan was based on months of conversations with students, alumni, staff, faculty and the Ithaca and Tompkins County communities about student housing needs. Public conversations will continue throughout the design phase of the new project, which will create a “village” for sophomore students on North Campus and enable the university to take some existing housing offline for deferred maintenance renovations. It also will allow the university to expand undergraduate student enrollment by 250 to 275 students for each of four consecutive years.

“The expansion of North Campus will make a Cornell education available to an increasing number of qualified students, enriching the student experience both in the classroom and in the on-campus residential environment,” said Provost Michael Kotlikoff. “The new housing will also coincide with curricular initiatives seeking to enhance educational innovation and the student experience, particularly in our larger, gateway courses.”

Increasing student enrollment will allow the university to better meet the rising demand experienced by several of Cornell’s colleges and academic units, and will further advance Cornell’s academic mission as a leading research institution, he added.

“We are one of a few Ivy League institutions not located in a major metropolitan environment,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life. “This provides Cornell with the distinct advantage of offering a residential experience in the midst of a beautiful and expansive campus and local community. That, in turn, helps students new to campus develop a broad support network, of which the residential experience is foundational. The expansion project will build upon our strong legacy in this area by expanding these opportunities for many more students than we are able to accommodate today.”

As part of the planning process, the university also will continue to engage with on- and off-campus stakeholders to anticipate and take into consideration the impacts that the expansion might place on other elements of the campus and community infrastructure, Lombardi said.

“This is a major project that will have a long-term positive impact on student life, and we want to make sure it excels in attracting and welcoming more of the best students to Cornell, builds a sense of campus community, and provides the best possible support for undergraduates’ academic pursuits,” Lombardi added.

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John Carberry