- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Pittsburg State University has completed a 15-year, $30 million effort to remodel all residential housing on its campus.

On Wednesday, the university rededicated the final project - a $3.1 million renovation of Nation Hall East that was originally constructed in 1966. Most of the residence halls on campus are more than 50 years old, The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/1IluYFb ) reported.

“We are so proud of what has been a huge accomplishment,” said Connie Malle, director of university housing. “These renovations have put new life into our 50-year-old-plus residence halls, which will be enjoyed by present and future PSU students for many more years.”

The renovations included enlarged bathrooms, new windows, renovated laundry rooms and improved mechanical systems.

The university decided in the mid- to late 1990s that the school either had to upgrade the residential halls or stop offering on-campus housing, said Steve Erwin, vice president of student life. He made his pitch to then-President Tom Bryant, focusing first on Willard Hall.

Willard Hall opened as a residence hall for women in 1924 but was largely vacant and needed repairs.

“My thinking was, if we can’t be successful in attracting additional students to a renovated Willard Hall, we certainly have no hope with our other facilities and their more generic exteriors,” Erwin said. “Certainly, when looking at the totality of the circumstances, any investment in any of our facilities represented a significant risk. But again, if we were going to continue to be a campus with a residential component, we had to take that risk.”

The multi-year plan to renovate and expand university housing across the board soon materialized.

The school’s on-campus residential census has increased from 778 in 1998 to 1,293 in 2014.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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