UW-Eau Claire is wrapping up campus projects as fall semester approaches

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- As fall semester approaches at UW- Eau Claire crews are wrapping up many projects that have been in the works over the summer.

The Suites is UWEC's newest residence hall

Some of these projects include a new residence hall, renovations of both Karlgaard Halls, the completion of the Garfield Avenue redevelopment and an outdoor classroom.

The new six story $35 million residence hall, called The Suites, is located next to Karlgaard Halls on upper campus and will be suite style housing.

The Suites will house 432 students and it is part of the university’s plan to combat its housing shortage. For the first time in years, students will no longer have to live in hotels.

“Having students living on campus increases retention of students and it was just hard for students when they were living in the hotels because it was a bit of a distance from campus and now all those students will have the option to live on campus,” says Mike Rindo, Assistant Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations.

Incoming junior Jacob Erickson lived in a hotel for his sophomore year and agrees that he felt a bit disconnected from the rest of campus.

“It is going to be nice to have the whole community feeling back on upper campus,” Erickson says.

With The Suites, UW- Eau Claire can accommodate 4,700 students living on campus.

Rindo says the renovations of Karlsgaard Halls will help the university to better accommodate the “modern student”.

“A lot of our residence halls were built in the 50s or 60s and today’s student has different expectations,” Rindo says. “We made a much nicer study lounge and more opportunity to gather on the floors, more privacy to the bathroom and we have made the living space a lot more open and welcoming.”

He says in the next 15 to 20 years, many of the older residence halls on campus will be renovated or replaced. Right now there are plans to remove Katherine Thomas Hall and Putnam Hall to make way for a new science building. Governors Hall will begin renovations next summer and Horan Hall will eventually be replaced by a dining hall with residences above.

“Our residence halls are so old and they are really starting to show their age,” Rindo says.

Another major project at the university over the last three years has been completion of the Garfield Avenue redevelopment. The Stowe Family Arch now stands at the entrance to the pedestrian walkway and crews are finishing up work on the Stowe Family Fountain. The final piece of the redevelopment is the outdoor classroom which should be done this fall.

“These projects are really changing the face of UW-Eau Claire in very positive ways,” Rindo says. “When you come to campus now, you are greeted with that arch that gives you a sense of arrival and you see the walkway along the Chippewa river, you go into our new modern residence halls and it really says that this is a university that is really on the rise, it’s a great place for students to come to school and a great place for faculty to work.”

August 31 is move in day at UW-Eau Claire and fall semester begins on September 4.