Dear Commons Community,
James Anderson, the Chancellor of Fayetteville State University, an historically black college in North Carolina, announced plans to demolish two dormitories — and not replace them. The reason? It doesn’t need to. Enrollment isn’t falling at Fayetteville State; in fact, it’s held steady at about 6,200 students overall for the past five years. But these days, more of its students are attending fully online, or they’re older. Some are both. This is the changing face of the American college student. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“…as James Anderson, Fayetteville’s chancellor, succinctly put it; there’s a new breed of students: “They don’t need dormitories.”
Gone will be the 240-bed Vance Hall, which has been unused for 10 years (Anderson describes it as looking “like a big prison”), and the 198-bed Bryant Hall, which the university decided to close after last year. The cost of tearing down Vance would be about $850,000 because of lingering asbestos issues; Anderson is hoping the state legislature will provide the money.
The institution has no immediate plans for the soon-to-be-open spaces. But it does have further ambitions for its online and adult-student offerings. Along with the 10 online degrees it already offers, next year Fayetteville State will add a $10,000 degree in conjunction with six nearby community colleges. (It’s called the $10K Pathway, but Jon Young, Anderson’s chief of staff, says the university is open to a better name if you’ve got one.) And with its proximity to Fort Bragg, the giant Army base, the university is also looking to develop programs in fields like cybersecurity that might appeal to soldiers from the base. Those won’t necessarily be four-year programs…
…When Chancellor Anderson was describing his institution’s embrace of online courses and adult learners, he told me, “I think more institutions are going to have to change to this model.” Perhaps some of these small colleges will choose a similar course. I suspect many won’t want or be able to make that kind of shift. And that leaves me, and maybe you too, wondering: Where does that leave them?”