Lyon College set to expand, build two new dorms

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Lyon College in Batesville ispreparing for future growth.

The college announced plans recently to make a few changesto the campus by adding new student housing.

Lyon's board of trustees agreed in October 2013 to build twonew residence halls that will house 100 students each. Jon Vestal, the vicepresident for institutional advancement, said these plans fall in line with thecollege's strategic plan to handle growth.

"Currently we're at 600 students, and we plan to grow to 800students by 2017," Vestal said. "We've approved the addition of 200 beds, whichtakes us from a capacity of 400 beds on campus to just over 600 beds. That willadd an 80 percent occupancy rate. That will keep us about where we need to beto keep our commitment to be a residential campus."

Plans call for the two new residence halls to be built on either side ofthe Young House complex on the east side of campus, creating a housing quad forupperclassmen.

"Our plan is to have two buildings, each about 29,000 squarefeet, that will house a hundred students each for a grant total of 200," Vestalsaid. "These are designed to be just about as good as or better than anythingon any campus across the state of Arkansas and in the Southeast."

He said the layout of the buildings is unlike any of theother dorms on campus.

"We've gone with a 'house system,'" Vestal explained. "Essentiallywe have rooms around the perimeters and other facilities, living spaces andrestrooms on the interior, and really that promotes community and involvementwith other students and we really want to foster that here at Lyon."

The college also sought out student feedback while thearchitects and designers drew up plans for the new facilities. Junior CaitlinCampbell, the student government president, was asked by administrators toprovide her input on the project. Her main suggestion, she said, was to provideplenty of common areas for students where they can get together, talk or study.

"These residence halls have large areas where people canjust hang out, just kind of live in the same space and have a place to callhome," Campbell said. "It's the best way to meet people. It just reallyenhances your college experience outside the classroom."

Though the college has not finalized any of the renderingsor blueprints yet, Campbell said she and her friends are impressed with theplans so far.

"[My friends] are really excited," she said, "especiallyabout the semi-private bathrooms that are still cleaned by maintenance but youcan still shut the door behind you. It's a big drawing card."

The college estimates that the project will cost about $12million. Vestal said Lyon will rely on its donors to fund this large-scaleconstruction project, just as it did when it rebuilt the student center,Edwards Commons, solely with monetary donations after a fire destroyed the previousfacility in 2010.

"Our alumni, our board members and other friends of thecollege have really stepped up to the plate and said we want to help out withthis project," Vestal explained. "Myself, the president and others willcontinue to fundraise for this project as we work toward a 2015 opening date."

The new residence halls are slated to open in August 2015,which disappoints Campbell since she'll graduate before she can live in thefacilities that she had a hand in planning.

"I'm from Batesville," she said, "so I have a brother comingup through college as soon as I leave. Maybe he'll here [at Lyon], and maybe I'llget to come back and visit."

In addition to the new facilities, Lyon College also plansto fully renovate the Brown and Barton Apartments on campus. Those upgradesshould be completed around the same time that the new dorms open.

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