Studies conducted to improve housing at NMU

Nikki Mitchell

NMU Housing and Residence Life will be working with The Scion Group, LLC. and Integrated Designs Incorporated (IDI) in order to conduct a study of what prospective and current students seek in terms of on-campus and off-campus housing.

Carl Holm, director of Housing and Residence Life, said the campus housing study will generate long-term plans for funding strategies, renovation and maintenance of the four non-renovated residence halls and on-campus apartments and an analysis of the housing market for off-campus students. The study will take place between November 2011 and May 2012.

“If we do this right, and I’m assuming we will either have a plan to upgrade and refurbish those halls that have not been renovated, or we will have a plan to replace those facilities,” Holm said.

The study began as a discussion about creating a long-range facility plan to renovate all of the residence halls, but with NMU’s enrollment growth not reaching the 10,400 students needed to finance renovation projects, the funds aren’t available. The study will provide a renovation and funding proposal that Housing and Residence will use when proposing projects and room and board requests, Holm said.

NMU sent a professional services bid to hire a consultant in July 2011 and the decision to hire Scion was made in October 2011. Scion conducted a similar study at NMU in 2004, which was one of the reasons it was selected for this study. The company has chosen to partner with IDI, a company based in Marquette with experience working with NMU’s renovation plans, Holm said.

“Scion was selected not only because of its experience, but it was smart of them to partner with IDI,” Holm said.

Students will be asked to participate in an online survey and focus groups centered on student satisfaction of on-campus housing. Focus groups will be chosen by Housing and Residence Life. Students living off campus will also have the option to participate and pinpoint the housing market off campus including size of rentals, amenities and vacancy rates, Holm said.

“My main concern about this study is recruiting off-campus students to participate in both focus groups and surveys,” Holm said. “The more actively people participate, the better the results will be.”

Jason Taylor, vice president of consulting services at Scion, said the company was interested in working with NMU in a second housing study because of the opportunity to see results of the previous recommendations from the study in 2004 and the opportunity to make new observations and recommendations for NMU’s campus housing to grow.

Through conducting the study, the company hopes to provide NMU with an achievable and practical plan to move campus housing forward and to create housing that is financially self-sustainable, Taylor said.

“Scion is very excited to be working with Northern Michigan University again,” Taylor said.

Freshman photography and international studies major Jenna Thompson is currently living in Halverson Hall, one of the halls that has not yet been renovated. Along with a full renovation like the other residence halls, she said that she’d like to see more energy-based, eco-friendly changes in her hall. She said eco-friendly lighting is one of the main aspects she’d like to see initiated.

As a member of Halverson Hall government, she thinks participating in focus groups and the survey is something that she would be interested in doing if given the opportunity.

“I would be able to communicate with other people in my hall about what they’d like to see as well,” Thompson said.

Unlike Thompson, junior earth science major James Korhonen lives off campus with his family. When seeking housing options, he sought a house or apartment that was close to campus with a low cost and large enough for his two siblings to live in as well, he said.

“It’s a lot cheaper than living in the dorms and I get to live with my family instead of someone I don’t really know,” Korhonen said.

If given the option to participate in the focus group and housing study, Korhonen said that he would because it would be helpful to the university.

The study began as a discussion about creating a long-range facility plan to renovate all of the residence halls, but with NMU’s enrollment growth not reaching the 10,400 students needed to finance renovation projects, the funds aren’t available. The study will provide a renovation and funding proposal that Housing and Residence will use when proposing projects and room and board requests, Holm said.

NMU sent a professional services bid to hire a consultant in July 2011 and the decision to hire Scion was made in October 2011. Scion conducted a similar study at NMU in 2004, which was one of the reasons it was selected for this study.

The company has chosen to partner with IDI, a company based in Marquette with experience working with NMU’s renovation plans, Holm said.

“Scion was selected not only because of its experience, but it was smart of them to partner with IDI,” Holm said.

Students will be asked to participate in an online survey and focus groups centered on student satisfaction of on-campus housing. Focus groups will be chosen by Housing and Residence Life.

Students living off-campus will also have the option to participate and pinpoint the housing market off campus including size of rentals, amenities and vacancy rates,” Holm said.

“My main concern about this study is recruiting off-campus students to participate in both focus groups and surveys,” Holm said. “The more actively people participate, the better the results will be.”

Jason Taylor, vice president of consulting services at Scion, said the company was interested in working with NMU in a second housing study because of the opportunity to see results of the previous recommendations from the study in 2004 and the opportunity to make new observations and recommendations for NMU’s campus housing to grow.

Through conducting the study, the company hopes to provide NMU with an achievable and practical plan to move campus housing forward and to create housing that is financially self-sustainable, Taylor said.

“Scion is very excited to be working with Northern Michigan University again,” Taylor said.

Freshman photography and international studies major Jenna Thompson is currently living in Halverson Hall, one of the halls that has not yet been renovated. Along with a full renovation like the other residence halls, she said that she’d like to see more energy-based, eco-friendly changes in her hall. She said eco-friendly lighting is one of the main aspects she’d like to see initiated.

As a member of Halverson Hall government, she thinks participating in focus groups and the survey is something that she would be interested in doing if given the opportunity.

“I would be able to communicate with other people in my hall about what they’d like to see as well,” Thompson said.

Unlike Thompson, junior earth science major James Korhonen lives off campus with his family. When seeking housing options, he sought a house or apartment that was close to campus with a low cost and large enough for his two siblings to live in as well, he said.

“It’s a lot cheaper than living in the dorms and I get to live with my family instead of someone I don’t really know,” Korhonen said.

If given the option to participate in the focus group and housing study, Korhonen said he would because it would be helpful to the university.