By Nicholas Sterling
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Towson University’s newest residence hall is a former 10-story Marriott Hotel with rooms that feature at least one bedroom, a full kitchen and possibly a laundry room.
Like other nearby colleges and universities, Towson has found a creative way to embrace a booming enrollment. At the University of Maryland, College Park officials offered cash to upperclassmen willing to release their dorm room and move off campus. Other nearby schools admit to doubling or tripling the number of students assigned to dorm rooms.
Towson President Kim Schatzel last spring announced the $1.5 million renovations of the former hotel located along York Road and Burke Avenue into The Residences at 10 West Burke Avenue. Only transfer students can live there.
“After much analysis and consideration, we have determined to not renew our management contract with the Marriott Corporation when it concludes in June of 2018 and will instead convert the hotel property …, which is wholly owned by the university, to apartment-style university housing available for occupancy in Fall 2018,” Schatzel said during a 2017 address.
The Residences has 10 floors with students paying $4,494 or $5,332 to live there. Most rooms feature one bedroom, a full kitchen, furniture, and air conditioning. Officials said that some rooms will have two bedrooms and a laundry room. Those students without a washer and dryer may use the laundry room on the first floor.
Officials said that the only housing option to rival The Residences prices is Carroll and Marshall Hall, which is only available to upperclassman.
The announcement of the new residence hall came on the heels of news about Towson University’s rapid growth in enrollment.
Schatzel said that the school received more than 12,000 applications for the 2016 freshman class. and enrolled “just over 2,700 highly qualified students, our largest freshman class in eight years.” The following year saw greater improvements.
“And as impressive as those numbers were, demand is even stronger for this upcoming fall,” Schatzel said. “We have received over 13,700 applications for this year’s freshman class, an increase of almost 15 percent compared to 2016.”
Sean Welsh, senior director of Communications and Media Relations, said that of the 22,750 students at Towson, about 2,200 of them were transfer students for this fall. The cost of a new building would have been around $100 million, he said.
The University of Maryland, College Park, has had an issue with too many students living in a dorm. Tracy Kiras, assistant director for Communications and Marketing, said the school offered an incentive to upperclassman to cancel their on-campus housing. Only 21 students took the $750 incentive offer.
Schatzel said that housing transfer students in the renovated hotel reinforces one of her eight presidential priorities. The program is called TIGER Way, with TIGER being an acronym for Transfer, International, Graduate Enrollment Resource Initiative. She said the purpose is to support the population and build a stronger foundation among the community.
“The Residences at 10 West Burke Avenue will strengthen Towson University’s connections to the community and provide much-needed transfer student housing,” said Schatzel.
Senior Kelsey Ferrick is a Resident Advisor at The Residences at 10 Towson West Burke Avenue who is very excited about the new living quarters.
“I really like it,” Ferrick said. “The rooms are really big. I like having my own kitchen, a big bed to myself, and a walk-in closet.”
Previously, Ferrick worked as an RA at the Glen Towers. She noted a difference in the way transfer students operate versus underclassmen.
“It’s cool because a lot of them [transfer students] are interested in getting involved just because they only have a couple years left at Towson,” Ferrick said. “This differentiates from freshman because freshman are a little more hesitant and stay in their dorms more.”
Justin Singh, a transfer student from Anne Arundel Community College, said he likes living in a former hotel.
“I think it’s great,” Singh said. “I wasn’t going to live here at first, try and look for an apartment, but this is just like an apartment and it’s close to school so it’s perfect.”