- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The University of Mississippi will try to speed up its normal construction process in order to head off what it fears will be a shortage of on-campus housing.

The College Board on Thursday approved plans for an $18 million Northgate dormitory to be built near the corner of Jackson Avenue and Sorority Row. The university plans to pay for the building using internal funds.

The university hopes to finish the structure of either four or five stories by the time class begins in August 2015. That would leapfrog plans that Ole Miss put forward last fall for additional housing that would open in 2016.

Ole Miss plans to copy the design of the three dormitories of the Ridge complex that it finished in 2013 for the new dorm, which will house 250 to 300 students.

“While the primary purpose of this request is driven by time, the university will benefit from reduced design fees as well,” College Board staff members wrote in recommending approval of the plan.

Chancellor Dan Jones said before Thursday’s meeting that about 5,000 of Ole Miss’ 18,000 students currently live on campus. University officials believe that students who live on campus are more likely to be engaged in the life of the school and less likely to drop out. Driven by that belief, Ole Miss and many other schools mandate that freshmen live in dorms.

Jones said the new housing was sparked in part because the university expects its freshmen classes to keep growing. That means fewer beds would be available for older students who want to keep living in university housing.

“We think the on-campus experience is healthy and good,” Jones said.

The university plans to spend $845,000 on architect’s fees, $13.6 million on construction, $480,000 on furniture and equipment and $728,000 on other costs. The university has set aside almost $2.4 million as a reserve.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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