BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — The building boom is continuing at Endicott College.
The school is planning to start construction of a new residence hall and a new ice-skating rink this summer, with the openings scheduled for September 2015.
Endicott President Richard Wylie said the $20 million residence hall, which will house about 300 students, is an effort by the college to have more of its students live on campus.
“We think it’s best for the town, best for the college and, certainly, best for the kids,” he said.
Since 2004, Endicott has built six new residence halls and purchased three properties near the campus that are being used for housing. Enrollment has grown by more than 50 percent in the last decade, with the college anticipating an undergraduate enrollment of 2,480 next fall.
Wylie said the intent of the new residence hall is not to increase enrollment, but to provide better on-campus housing for seniors. Eight percent of Endicott students, about 150, now live off campus, including those commuting from home.
“So many of the students living off campus are great, but all it takes is a few (causing trouble), and it’s not positive,” he said. “It’s just not good for neighbors or for anyone. We feel it’s best to get kids back on campus.”
Wylie also said rents for apartments in Beverly have been rising, making it more difficult for students to afford.
The new dorm space will allow the college to end the practice of students living in modular units on campus and in four college-owned houses on Hale Street. Wylie said some of those houses are in “really bad shape” and will be demolished.
“We can think of at least two that we would take down,” he said.
The new residence hall will be three or four stories tall and accommodate just over 300 students. It is intended for seniors, with four students living together in apartments that include a living room and kitchen.
Construction of the skating rink, which the college announced two years ago, is scheduled to begin within 30 days.
Wylie said the rink will provide a home to the college’s men’s and women’s hockey teams. It will also be made available at a reduced cost for the Beverly High School hockey teams and will be available for use by the community and youth hockey programs, he said.
The rink will cost $9 million to build. It will have seating for just under 1,000, as well as 150 parking spaces.
Wylie said the rink will be a “resource to the community” of Beverly, which has not had a skating rink for decades.
“I can’t tell you how many hockey moms and hockey dads are saying, ‘Please build it. I’m traveling at 5 in the morning (to games or practice), and it’s killing me,’” Wylie said. “I didn’t really want to build it on our campus, but it became clear it wasn’t going to be built anywhere else.”
Wylie said both the residence hall and the skating rink will be built toward the back of the campus and will not be visible from Hale Street.
Wylie acknowledged that all of the new construction has played a role in rising tuition. Tuition will go up 2 percent in the fall, to $28,994. Tuition, room and board for the 2014-15 year will be $42,728.
“We’re all worried about the cost of higher education,” he said. “A lot of it is the services we provide, and the demand is there for new buildings, new faculty, new programs. I’ve been at places where they started cutting, and they cut the quality of the institution. I’m a firm believer that you build your programs.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.