Wildcat Commons, FVSU's newest residential village, has plenty of amenities
Never one to miss a chance to recapture the days of his youth at Fort Valley State University, university President Larry E. Rivers spoke Tuesday of his freshman dormitory stay in 1969. Rivers told a tale of three guys sharing a 12-by-12 room with no air conditioning, when a fan was considered a luxury. Communal bathrooms were a norm, while privacy was virtually nonexistent.
It's almost a certainty Rivers will retell the same story of his days in Jeanes Hall on the Fort Valley State campus when students return in the fall.
However, 950 students will have a totally different experience at the Wildcat Commons, the university's newest residential village, where private rooms and air conditioning will be the norm.
"I'm a little jealous, but I'm very happy for the students," Rivers said. Hell, you and me both, bruh!
The $44 million project, funded by the FVSU Foundation, the FVSU Property LLC and the University System of Georgia, includes five student housing buildings and a clubhouse, all on nine acres of land. Construction on the living facility began in July 2006.
Larry E. Odom, the capital projects coordinator for plant operations, credited construction contractor H.J. Russell and Co. for building the Wildcat Commons on schedule.
"These buildings are ready to be occupied," Odom said, adding that the buildings had received certificates of occupancy.
Terrance Smith, interim vice president for student affairs, said many of the amenities of the Wildcat Commons came at the request of students.
"The student body made their requests very clear and very bold," Smith said.
Those requests resulted in a clubhouse that includes a 250-capacity movie theater, a convenience store, a media lounge and recreation area, conference rooms and office space.
A tour of one suite provided insight into the spaciousness and privacy awaiting students.The four-bedroom suite, which was already decorated, provided a glimpse of how students will be living. One room was decorated with black and pink accents to show how a female coed might live. Another room contained various blue and gold Fort Valley State paraphernalia representing a male coed's living quarters.
A third room was left unfurnished with just the dark wood bed with a mattress and a desk set to show exactly what students can expect upon arrival at the new dormitory.
The Wildcat Commons is expected to house a cross section of students, from freshmen to graduate students. The minimum cost for a suite-style apartment is $1,625 per student, per semester for the three-bed, two-bath suite. A two-bedroom apartment, the most expensive, will cost $2,425.
However, Demetrius Smith, general manager for the property, said the students will receive a multitude of benefits, including secure facilities requiring keycard access. Smith said each building contains eight handicapped-accessible rooms.
Furthermore, the buildings are so technologically advanced that a student will be able to determine the status of their laundry at the laundry room via their cellular phone, personal digital assistant or laptop computer, avoiding multiple laundry excursions.
The students also will be in close proximity to the school's health and physical education complex where they can go for a swim or play on the softball field.
"It's centered around getting these students more involved and more active," Smith said.
Daniel K. Wims, the university's executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs, said the wait for new dorms on campus has been long and hard. But it was worth it.
"These are not just residence halls," Wims said. "These are living, learning centers."
And the students want to live and learn there. Rivers said the dormitory is already booked up.
And plans call for an expansion of the centers. Rivers said the university is looking at a $25 million to $35 million project to add 450 more beds, as well as a dining facility and a bookstore.
Rivers said the promise and creation of a modern, state-of-the-art, secure dormitory will assist in the university's efforts to recruit more students.
He said he is even willing to spend a night in the dormitory to get a taste of college life for 24 hours.
"It almost makes you want to go back to college and get, for me, a fifth degree," Rivers said.