Faculty Hear Plans for Graduate Student Housing

To meet a growing need for graduate student housing on campus, the university looked for both a location convenient for students and a developer who would build affordable, long-lasting units, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III told the Academic Council last Thursday.

Meeting those goals involved tradeoffs, such as the need to cut trees at the site in the woods near the Fuqua School of Business.  But even there, the site scored out as environmentally friendly compared to other sites, including Central Campus, Trask said.

“We looked at six locations,” Trask told faculty members, several of whom asked about the project’s environmental impact. “We tried to find locations where graduate and professional students would want to live and could walk to where then needed to go. The location we selected is near the medical school, the sciences and other graduate and professional programs.

“I understand the issue of removing the trees. It’s always a tradeoff. In this case we cut trees down, but we don’t have to spend $1 million a year to send diesel gas buses in to pick the students up.”

Negotiations are underway with a European construction company to start with an estimated 700 single units. The lesson learned from the original units on Central Campus, Trask said, is cutting costs on campus housing construction ends up costing the university more in the long run through higher maintenance costs and a shorter life span.

“This company is willing to build to our constructions standards, our exterior standards, and they were willing to pay for construction and have rent control to keep it affordable,” Trask said.

He added that “when a developer is willing to build to our standards and provide affordable housing – something disappearing in our community -- then we need to have that conversation.”

In other business before the council, Kim Hewitt, the new vice president of institutional equity, provided an overview of her office. The council also held a discussion about Duke Kunshan University in executive session.