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How WSU and CCS transformed from commuter schools into 24-hour campus communities

February 9, 2016

In 2002 Wayne State opened the university's first modern residence hall. They would go on to open a second in 2003 and a third in 2005. Wayne State was deeply invested in transforming itself from a commuter school into what it is today, a campus that functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. After the three residence halls were built, occupancy was well short of capacity and the idea of a waiting list for student housing seemed overly ambitious.

"The residence halls struggled a bit in the beginning," says Timothy Michael, associate vice president for business and auxiliary operations and chief housing officer. "It took some time to get students to think of Wayne as more than a commuter school. We had to build the fitness center and other amenities to make students think of us as more than what we were."

This past December, Wayne State completed a 10-year housing facilities master plan that calls for a possible $230 million in development in the form of both new construction and renovations. Wayne State issued a request for proposals in January to build new residence halls with 800 beds' worth of furnished apartment-style housing. The two buildings will be built on Anthony Wayne Drive. The 15-story Deroy Apartments, built in 1972, will be demolished to make way for the new construction. Wayne State is also close to a deal that would lease a renovated off-campus apartment complex for graduate and professional student housing.

Jeri Stroupe is a senior project administrator in Wayne State's Office of Economic Development, which was created both with the intent to make the university a better neighbor within the Midtown community and to encourage students and faculty to spend more time and money in the neighborhood. The idea is that a more porous border between the university and the surrounding communities, the more all parties will benefit. "We don't want to be the ivory tower that sits in the center of Midtown that people go and circle around," says Stroupe. "We want people to come through and be around [campus]."