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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

By ANDREW SHAIN - ashain@thestate.com

Benedict College plans to build a 100-suite dorm capable of housing nearly 400 students next to its football stadium on Two Notch Road.

The $15 million, four-story dorm will allow the historically black college to stop housing students in apartment complexes that are a 15-minute shuttle ride away from its Columbia campus, school president David Swinton said.

The dorm is slated to open in August 2013.

Student surge

Enrollment growth from 2005-2011 among South Carolina's 23 four-year private colleges:

1. South University: 219.3%
2. Anderson: 64.5%
3. Newberry: 32%
4. North Greenville: 31.9%
5. Wofford: 31%
6. Benedict: 25.9%
7. Columbia International: 16.2%
10. Morris: 13.4%
14. Allen University: 3.2%
19. Columbia: (15.2%)

S.C. average: 5.7%

SOURCE: S.C. Commission on Higher Education

Benedict's enrollment has grown by 26 percent in the past seven years — adding 661 students to total about 3,200, according to S.C. Commission on Higher Education data.

Just five of the state's 23 private four-year colleges have grown at a faster rate since 2005, and just two schools have added more students.

"This dorm will help the immediate shortage (in housing), but we'll be right at the boundary," Swinton said. "We hope this will work for a while."

The new dorm will likely house sophomores living in suite clusters with shared bathroom and kitchen areas, Swinton said.

Benedict has plans to build more dorms, but nothing immediately, he said.

The college has been trying to find solutions to house its students for the past few years.

Benedict tried putting 250 students in a vacant hotel near Two Notch Road and Interstate 20 in 2009, but the building did not meet Richland County fire codes for a dorm. County leaders declined to rezone the property for a dorm in 2010 even after repairs because of its seven-mile distance from Benedict's campus.

Source: The State Newspaper