SIU Carbondale to reopen Neely Hall

SIU Carbondale to reopen Neely Hall

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — A Southern Illinois University official says one of the Carbondale campus’s iconic 17-story towers will reopen to students next fall.

The university has decided to close University Hall and reopen Neely Hall, The Southern Illinoisan reported. Neely Hall was one of three high rise dorms, known as the towers, which were closed for the 2018-2019 school year after an enrollment decline left the university unable to fill them.

Enrollment at the Carbondale campus dropped to 12,817 students this fall semester. The 12 percent drop follows enrollment declines of 7.5 percent in 2016 and 9 percent in 2017. The campus’s enrollment is about half of its 1991 peak of 24,869 students.

Reopening Neely Hall will give students more flexibility if they want to change rooms or roommates since it has twice the capacity of University Hall, said Jon Shaffer, director of University Housing.

“We were within 10 beds of complete occupancy,” in the buildings open this year, Shaffer said. “When you’re that tight it doesn’t give students an opportunity to move around.”

The increased capacity will also help the university accommodate upperclassmen wanting single-occupancy rooms.

While the towers have been closed to university students, they have hosted conferences, university guests and summer camps, Shaffer said. The towers have been kept in good working order with regular maintenance, he said.

“Last year when we announced not using them, everyone thought we were tearing them down or gutting them,” Shaffer said. “But that’s not the case. They’re in good shape, clean and ready to go.”

The university plans to eventually replace the three towers with shorter structures to create neighborhood-style housing. Demolition could cost around $4 million per tower, Shaffer said, so for now the goal is to use the towers as much as possible.