(WMC-TV) – A new dorm is going up at LeMoyne Owen College. It is a big project and means a lot for everyone affiliated with the school.
Many well known alumni were at the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to celebrate what the new building means for students past and present.
As a senior, social work student Ashley Dortch will not be at Lemoyne Owen College when the new dorm opens for students next fall.
"I look forward to coming back to see it," she said.
The addition of a dorm large enough to house 336 students will give the school a community feeling.
"This will be a great look for the college, enrollment will go up, and retention rate will go up also," said Dortch.
Most students at the school live near the campus, or commute back and forth. The $13.5 million dorm will be a major sign that school leaders want students to get more of a traditional college experience.
"Students who graduate from high school, even if they live in the city want to live on campus. So, this will make it possible for many more students to be a part of the total college life," said LeMoyne Owen College President Dr. Johnnie B. Watson.
The need is already there. Total enrollment is 1,212 students. The majority of those are full time students, which is double what it was six years ago.
"We are seeing an early interest in applications once they heard about the dormitories," said Dr. Watson.
Brick by brick, school leaders also hope the construction project shows the community that LeMoyne Owen has left its financial problems behind.
Five years ago, the school was close to losing its accreditation because of growing debt problems. But these days, the project is visible proof that the school is bouncing back. .
The ground breaking comes as the school celebrates its 150th anniversary.