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NDSU thinking big

FARGO - This fall will be crowded at North Dakota State University.

Officials expect another record year of enrollment and more demand for on-campus housing that could result in up to 300 students living in hotels.

NDSU also needs to accommodate more than 30 new faculty positions created to keep up with the growth.

Finding a place for everyone is a challenge, but NDSU is leasing new space, adding more class sections and working toward opening one of the two new downtown facilities.

President Joseph Chapman said he's sensitive to maintaining adequate facilities as the university expands.

"My concern is that as we grow we have the same quality of education that we've always had," Chapman said.

Signs point to another record enrollment this fall, though it's too early to know how much the increase could be, said Prakash Mathew, vice president for student affairs.

Last fall, enrollment grew 2.2 percent to 12,527 students.

This summer, NDSU added an extra session of orientation to accommodate a large freshman class.

As of Friday, more than 2,300 potential freshmen attended orientation, and there are two more sessions planned in August.

Mathew anticipates 85 percent of those at orientation will become students.

"Adding another orientation session tells me our number will be much higher than last year," Mathew said.

Again this year, the freshman class is looking like it will have more students from Minnesota than North Dakota, Mathew said.

Emily Dilliard of Minneapolis said she chose NDSU for its equine studies program and the location.

"I wanted to go away from home but not so far away from home," said Dilliard, who attended orientation on Thursday.

NDSU expects nearly 1,000 international students this fall from 80 countries, Chapman said. Last fall there were 802 international students.

Graduate student enrollment is expected to stay stable at about 1,800 students.

This fall, NDSU will open Living Learning Center West, a 166-bed residence hall for upper-class students.

But even with that new facility, NDSU is preparing to temporarily house up to 300 students in hotels, said Rian Nostrum, associate director of operations for residence life.

NDSU routinely has students in overflow housing each fall, but campus officials are preparing for more than usual, Nostrum said.

The demand is fueled not only by enrollment growth, but also by more interest from returning students to live on campus, Nostrum said.

Last year, 40 students stayed in hotels. Fall 2004 was the last time the demand was this high, with more than 200 students housed in hotels.

'Problem year'

To accommodate more students, NDSU is adding additional 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. classes this fall to make better use of classroom space.

"That may not be the most popular, for both students and faculty," Mathew said.

NDSU also is expanding classes offered during evenings and online.

Layne Gruman, a freshman from Lakeville, Minn., said he had no problem registering for classes at the times he wanted.

Gruman will live in Reed Hall, though he knows some students who registered late who will likely be in hotels.

In August, three departments will move to the first floor of the Stop-N-Go Center, a new apartment complex on 19th Avenue North adjacent to the gas station.

NDSU is leasing the 23,000-square-foot space for the budget, payroll and human resources offices, distance and continuing education, the couple and family therapy center and the counseling program.

Bruce Frantz, director of facilities management, said those departments were chosen because they have less interaction with the rest of the campus.

Two floors of Klai Hall, one of two downtown facilities under construction, will be ready to hold classes at the start of the semester, architect Terry Stroh said.

The former Lincoln Mutual Life building will house architecture and landscape architecture.

Faculty offices, an architecture library and the basement will not be ready until later this fall, Stroh said.

Additional buses and bus routes will be added to transport students and employees, Frantz said.

Moving to the new leased space, which officials call the SGC Building, and Klai Hall will free up some room on the main campus, Frantz said.

The SGC also has classroom space that could be used this fall "if we find we're really hard pressed," Frantz said.

Classes also could be held at the Skills Training and Technology Center, also on 19th Avenue North, but officials aren't planning on it yet.

Everyone will be able to breathe easier a year from now when the 140,000-square-foot Richard H. Barry Hall opens downtown.

The College of Business facility will include 16 classrooms, a 235-seat lecture hall and about 100 faculty offices.

"This is our problem year," Frantz said. "It's a great problem to have, but we need to accommodate students and faculty as best we can."