The university renovated O’Donnell Hall over summer 2019, providing new furniture, carpeting, painting and stair treads costing more than $400,000.
The installation started May 13 and ended the day before students moved in, Rick Arcuri, executive director of student affairs, said.
“I hope that it makes students happier with the living space because they’re able to rearrange it to suit their needs,” Arcuri said.
Not all 163 rooms got these specific changes over the summer, as renovations in O’Donnell have been in progress for about three years. Some leftover furniture in Carpenter Tower and other residential buildings from old projects was put to use in some O’Donnell rooms, Arcuri said.
The furniture was still in good shape and is the same furniture make and model found in Straz Tower, Carpenter Tower and Mashuda Hall. This saved the university money by not requiring completely new furniture for O’Donnell, Arcuri said.
Arcuri said the university keeps a list, called the capital project list, that contains any major component of a building that needs to be addressed across residence halls and university-owned apartments. A committee, which contains different people across the staff and administration, reviews the list and determines order of projects to best impact the student experience for that year. Student input comes from student representatives from Residence Hall Association.
Patrick Kirby, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, lived in O’Donnell last year. He said while the furniture was not the highest quality, it did everything he needed it to, and he had no complaints. However, he said he sees the renovated features are a good addition to the residence hall.
“It’s just that initial reaction of seeing … a higher-quality dorm has a big influence as a freshman in terms of how they think their lifestyle’s (going to) be in college versus if they walk in and see … a lot of old and beat-up furniture, they’re probably gonna be like ‘Man, this is going to suck,’” Kirby said.
Randi Haseman, a freshman in the College of Communication, is currently living in O’Donnell. She agreed that a first look at a residence hall has a big impact on first year students. She said the new furniture has lots of storage, and is more spacious and efficient than the previous type.
“I’m excited to be the first to have the new furniture at O’Donnell,” Haseman said.
Arcuri says the planning cycle for future renovations hasn’t started for next year yet. It will begin in the middle of the fall semester, around October, he said. Arcuri recognized there are pressing needs for furniture in some of the apartment buildings. Since the committee has worked its way through all of the residence halls, it will take a look at the apartments next, Arcuri said.