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JCC dorm to begin accepting applications Monday

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The new residence hall at Jefferson Community College is more than 30 percent complete, and college officials are beginning to accept applications from current and prospective students who might want to live in the building.

The 90,000-square-foot, 298-unit dormitory will feature a range of three- to six-person suites, along with common study lounges, a computer lab, a meeting room and a cafe.

The exterior construction of the building is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving so that work can continue inside through the winter, according to Jack N. Donato, president of the board of the Faculty Student Association Auxiliary LLC.

It will be open for the fall 2014 semester, Mr. Donato said. The college will accept applications to live in the residence hall starting Monday, JCC spokeswoman Karen J. Freeman said. Applicants first must be accepted as JCC students.

The Faculty Student Association, a nonprofit organization that supports the mission of the college, is funding the project through the issuance of up to $25 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds. The facility has been projected to cost $17.5 million.

It shows every sign of being completed on time and within budget, according to Mr. Donato.

“Things are going very well. We are a little bit ahead of schedule,” he said.

Ronald C. Shidemantle, the newly appointed dean of students, already has begun sketching out programs to help incorporate residential life into the college, which traditionally has been a school where students commute to class.

Mr. Shidemantle, who began his career in student life as an undergraduate resident adviser, said the transition will be smooth because of the high level of student participation already seen at the college.

“Many community colleges don’t have active student populations. ... here the engagement is impressively high,” Mr. Shidemantle said.

As the economy has faltered in recent years and the cost of traditional four-year institutions has continued to grow, community colleges have become an increasingly attractive form of higher education, according to Mr. Shidemantle.

“There’s been a rebirth across the country, a tremendous growth in two-year institutions,” he said. “We’ve also seen a widespread increase in residence hall programs.”

Staff has begun having discussions about how to incorporate the residence hall into welcome week activities and encourage students to be active in campus life and student organizations as well as setting policy for seemingly mundane details such as hall rules, card access and trash disposal, Mr. Shidemantle said.

He brings extensive experience with him to the job. He worked most recently as the dean of students at the Enid campus of Northern Oklahoma College. Before that he was the director of residence life at Robert Morris University at Coraopolis, Pa. He also served as the director of Greek life at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa., and Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.

“I’ve lived on the semester since I was 17,” he often tells people.

But this will be the first time that he’s worked as a dean of students at a college where there has never been a residence hall before.

“For me professionally, it’s a great challenge ... and it’s just really a great opportunity,” Mr. Shidemantle said. “We’re just delighted the program is coming to fruition this fall. It’s going to be a great experience.”

To apply for student housing at JCC, visit: http://wdt.me/m7wg5r

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