UNC approves Butler Hall renovations
By Reggie Ponder
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Elizabeth City State University received a green light Friday from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to move ahead with the complete renovation of the Butler Hall dormitory.
The university is using $700,000 of its renovation and repair allocation to renovate Butler Hall. ECSU officials hope to have the student residence hall ready to house students for the 2019-20 school year.
The project, which had already gotten the backing of the ECSU Board of Trustees, was unanimously approved by the UNC Board of Governors at its meeting Friday.
The University of North Carolina System allocated ECSU $2.3 million this year to use for renovation and repair of facilities, which university officials have noted is the largest renovation and repair allocation to ECSU since 2007 and the greatest percentage of the system’s renovation and repair budget the school has ever received.
Chancellor Karrie Dixon and other ECSU officials have said renovation of Butler Hall is a priority because of ECSU’s growth in enrollment and they expect that bringing Butler Hall back into service next year should accommodate immediate needs for student housing.
But the continued growth that’s expected will create a need for additional housing for students, according to ECSU officials.
At the same time, growth — especially in the number of students living on campus and eating in the university’s dining hall — will help those so-called auxiliary operations become self-sustaining financially.
Josh Lassiter, ECSU’s vice chancellor for business and finance, has reported to the university’s trustees that 1,800 to 1,850 students is the break-even point for auxiliary services such as housing and dining.
With enrollment nearing 1,700 this year, ECSU already is looking at only having to use slightly more than $300,000 from fund balance, Lassiter said. The dorms are fuller and more students are on meal plans, which is helping the university’s bottom line, he said.
The University of North Carolina System is looking at public-private partnerships system-wide as one solution to campus housing needs. Another possibility could be designating the entire ECSU campus as a “Millennial Campus,” which would exempt the campus from some state regulations and procedures and could make construction less costly.
The university’s N.C. Connect Bond funds are being used to complete a $8.5 million renovation of Moore Hall and partial renovation of the G.R. Little Library. The library project will cost $4.5 million.