Rodney dorms and dining hall to close in 2015, Dickinson may house upperclassmen

Iwest campus
Plans for West Campus involve demolition and possible transition to upperclassmen area.


Incoming freshmen will be the last students to live in Rodney Residence Halls and dine in the Rodney Dining Hall. According to Senior Associate Director of Residence Life and Housing Jim Tweedy, the “most official” plan is that Rodney and its dining hall will close at the end of 2015.

Tentative plans are for demolition of the complex, though no official date has been set. Rumors that Rodney and Dickinson are going to be demolished have been circulating for several years, rumors Tweedy acknowledged as true.

“You hear, ‘One more year and they’ll be gone,’ every year,” Tweedy said. “But this time it really is just one more year.”

Each complex currently houses approximately 600 students, Tweedy said. The dormitories were constructed in 1966, according to the university website.

With age, maintenance has become an issue, Alexine Cloonan, project manager of Facilities and Construction said.

“Rodney has been tough to maintain,” Cloonan said.

Some of the problems include frequent leaks in the windows and roofs as well as problems with the brickwork and mechanical systems, Cloonan said.

When Rodney closes, freshmen will no longer be placed in single dorms, Tweedy said.

“For freshmen, we want to avoid singles,” Tweedy said. “We see that most students when assigned a single are actually upset about it.”

Students will continue to be housed in Dickinson, however, most likely for two to three more years, Tweedy said. The university will still need the bed space offered by the Dickinson complex. Because the complex lacks features like air-conditioning systems, maintenance is not as challenging, Tweedy said.

However, as the Rodney Complex includes a dining hall, providing dining options for students living in Dickinson once Rodney closes poses an issue. Tweedy said officials are still in conversation regarding what he called an “obvious concern.”

“The dining hall would be too expensive to maintain for just Dickinson,” Cloonan said.

Housing upperclassmen with limited need for a dining hall is an option currently in conversation, as well as possibly making Dickinson upperclassmen singles, Tweedy said, but no final decisions have been made.

Current West Campus residents expressed concern at the inconvenience this would cause. Freshman Blake Dantzler, a Rodney resident, said he would see the distance to another dining hall as inconvenient.

“I can’t even imagine,” Dantzler said. “It’s so convenient right now being able to walk right to the dining hall.”

Along with the Rodney complex, Kent Dining Hall will be closing in the fall of 2015 when new Academy Street dormitories open with a new adjacent dining hall.

Cloonan said she hopes the new Academy Street dining hall will attract students from all over campus to reduce potential issues on West Campus. The new dining hall will be able to accommodate the diverse dietary needs of students, Cloonan said.

Having to walk to Central or North Campus would be an unnecessary inconvenience for West Campus residents, freshman Alexandria Law said.

When it comes to making connections and assimilating, there is an overwhelmingly positive response among those who live in Rodney and Dickinson because students consider them to be social dorms, Tweedy said.

Similarly, Dantzler said he does not have many complaints about residing on West Campus.

“I actually really like Rodney,” Dantzler said. “It’s nice how it’s set up with the courtyard.”

The current West Campus employees are people Dantzler has gotten to know well, adding to the overall appeal of living there, he said.

Satisfaction on West Campus is higher, Tweedy said.

“Dickinson––with the smallest rooms on campus––are some of our most popular dorms in terms of student satisfaction,” he said.

Law said she thought West Campus was a good first-year environment.

“Freshman year, you want to talk to more people––you find out who you are,” Law said. “I think it’s good for freshmen.”

Surveys have reflected proximity to and interaction with other students is directly related to student satisfaction with their first-year experience, Tweedy said.

“We’ve found Dickinson and Rodney students by the end of the year have made about 20 to 30 personal connections, while students in dorms like George Read have made around six,” Tweedy said.

An important part of the freshman experience is student interaction, he said, and plans for the future will encourage this.

“Eventually we want to move almost all freshman students to East Campus,” he said. “If an entire section of campus was devoted to freshmen, it could really enhance the freshman experience.”

Cloonan said she believes this would pave the way for better programming.

“We want to get students more involved and give them a good strong first year,” she said.

With the opening of the new dining hall on Academy Street, which will be twice the size and offer seven times more options than any other dining hall, this shift of students to East Campus would eventually provide students with, essentially, a freshmen village.

With such a large number of current students who lived on West Campus for their freshman year, the “West Side Pride” still runs deep, Law said.

“West Campus, best campus!” Law said.

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  • comment-avatar
    Ray Imbro 5 years

    I lived in Rodney F 1977-1979. Has one of the singles that was intended to be a middle bathroom 7’×9′ single my freshman year. I was the “sub man” who sold sandwiches at night in the dorms of Rodney and Dickenson and it was a great place to live and know everyone on west campus. Sorry to see them go.

  • comment-avatar
    Caroline 5 years

    I lived in Rodney D 2005-2006… I loved it! I also loved my single as a freshman; it’s not like you’re in a single and everyone else is in a double or triple – almost everyone else is in a single! You get your privacy but still have the communal dorm feel (not to mention air condition – now THAT was a commodity). The new dorms on Laird are really nice, but I’ll be very sad to see Rodney and RDH go!

  • comment-avatar
    KB 5 years

    I lived in Dickinson as a freshman, and again as a DF (Dickinson Fellow) my second year, in 1991-1993. I have several very close friendships 20 years later that started in Dickinson. I think it speaks volumes that these new dorms, that coddle the students with every possible convenience, are both ranked lower in satisfaction and students report fewer connections made from living there. The University should take note, and do a better job not only of trying to “program” interactions, but creating dorms that by their very design encourage community. Courtyards, floor design revolving around common rooms, etc. The programmed interactions never work as well as interactions that occur organically.

  • comment-avatar
    Jude 5 years

    Wow, what a horrible bunch of excuse-making on the part of the administration. The Rodneys were AWESOME for making connections when I was there in 1986-1988. None of the other complexes could compare for making friends. And having a single room was such a relief after the hell of my freshman roommate. Plus having air conditioning made me extremely popular among the poor east and south campus sods, and kept me healthy through my worst allergy seasons. Basically, the administration is saying that they want all the students to suffer in May and September because they’re too damn lazy to maintain the AC systems. What a crying shame. I’d respect them more if they just said that instead of making excuses we all can see are BS about students somehow being “disappointed” by singles. HAH.

    • comment-avatar
      Jude 5 years

      And if they do this, they can count on this alum to NEVER donate a cent, because the Rodneys were the best part of my experience at US.

  • comment-avatar
    Keri 5 years

    I lived in Rodney E in the 2002-2003 school year. When I found out I was in a single I was afraid I’d be the only one, however when I moved in and saw most people on the floor were in singles it was probably the best experience I could have had. We had our own space but all kept our doors open and everyone on the floor became like family. Some of my closest friends today are the friends I made 12 years ago in my Rodney dorm! Such a shame it’s closing…single dorms should definitely still be considered for the new dorms.

  • comment-avatar
    Jeremy Smith 5 years

    I wonder what they’re going to do with the Kent Dining Hall. I’m guessing it’ll become a study lounge like Daugherty Hall? That would make the most sense. I don’t think they can outright tear it down, because it’s connected to the Kent Dorm, and it’s a pretty old building but will maintained building.

    It’s time for Rodney to go, definitely.

  • comment-avatar
    Me 5 years

    Rodney was great in the 1970’s. I lived there in all four years and loved it. Still have wonderful friends from Rodney. I met my wife while we both lived in the complex. We were not the only Rodney couple to marry after graduation. Rodney Rocks!

  • comment-avatar
    bc 5 years

    I lived in Rodney for both freshman and sophomore years. I actually wanted a single room. But the design of the dorms with lounges in the center of each floor, something many other dorms didn’t have, made it very easy to meet other students as the common area became our hangout place. To me it combined the best of both privacy and social interaction.

  • comment-avatar
    Clarice Howe-Johnson 4 years

    4th floor Rodney E resident, Fall 1975 – Spring 1977. Great location, great dining hall, great people. Can’t believe it would cost more to renovate/maintain then build a new complex.

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