CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 8, 2015 – Conceptual design for the first phase of a Greek Village at Southeast Missouri State University was approved today by the Southeast Board of Regents.
The Board directed University administration to complete design development, finalize financing options and complete lease terms with Greek organizations. Final site plans, lease agreements and financing will be presented to the Board for final approval at their June meeting.
“New Greek housing brings an additional level of excitement to the Greek community,” said DeAnte Smith, director of Greek Life at Southeast. “Not only will these houses be new places for our Greek students to live, but it also provides for new opportunities to grow the Greek system. New housing will increase the membership of our Greek system as well as strengthen the relationship between chapter members, alumni and the University.”
The Greek Village will be located on the north end of the campus, north of the Show Me Center near the property known as the Shivelbine house. The construction schedule calls for bids to be let this summer with a contract to be awarded in early fall. The Regents approved the site of the first phase to be developed with four houses constructed over two years. The plan calls for two or three houses to be completed for occupancy by the fall 2016 semester, with the remaining one or two houses to be occupied by fall 2017.
Parker Butler, president of the Interfraternity Council at Southeast, said, “The new Greek Village will give Greek students a stronger sense of identity and pride. It will also be a great way to bring chapters closer together.”
Cost estimate for the project, including site work, furnishings, architectural fees and a 10 percent construction contingency is $8.85 million, according to Kathy Mangels, vice president for finance and administration. Full buildout on the site could accommodate up to seven houses, two of which are multi-story footprints that could house two separate Greek organizations. Cost estimates are based on final floor plans approved by four Greek organizations – Sigma Nu, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi — that have expressed interest and the financial capacity to participate in the first phase of the project. The placement on the site of the four houses to be built in the first phase are based on locations chosen by the organizations, although the placement and orientation of each house will continue to be refined for privacy and green space considerations., Mangels said.
Plans call for construction costs to be repaid by the chapters through a lease arrangement, but the total project cost includes some costs that may not be amortized to the individual organizations through their lease, such as any needed demolition.
Mangels said draft lease agreements have been shared with each organization, and they have provided feedback.
“It is the intent to design a lease structure that recognizes the equity commitment of these chapters, which might be reflected in a lease structure that adjusts over time for those chapters who continue long-term lease commitments,” Mangels said.
Since the Regents’ February meeting, floor plans have been developed that are specific to the needs of each chapter, ranging in occupancy from 22 to 35 students.
Mangels said the University intends to use common structural and HVAC systems, but organizations can customize spaces to meet their operational needs. Current floor plans include combinations of single, double and triple rooms along with support spaces, including a chapter room, office, library and study spaces.
Civil engineering on the project has been completed, and current designs call for the access road to the site to come off of Alumni Drive. The existing road enters and exits on Sprigg Street, but because this is a busy city street, safety issues were considered, she said.
Last December, the Board approved the feasibility of a Greek Village concept and authorized the University administration to pursue design development. The Greek Village will allow one or more chapters to relocate some or all of their students from the Group Housing area – known as Greek Hill — to the Greek Village, creating opportunities for other Greek organizations to occupy this space which is operating at or near capacity. Current Greek housing capacity is 375. Last fall, 351 Greek students lived on campus outside of Greek housing, 88 of whom are part of a chapter that has no on-campus housing, said Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success and dean of students.
To advance Greek housing opportunities, the Regents in February reviewed conceptual design options and draft site plans for the Greek Village, and authorized administration to complete design development and negotiate lease terms with interested Greek organizations.
A Greek Village is one of several efforts underway to increase student participation in Greek Life at Southeast. Efforts began in fall 2013 by student leaders in the Southeast Greek community. The students developed and implemented a marketing and outreach strategy to introduce new students and their parents to Greek Life as part of the campus visit and new student orientation programs. At the same time, the University upgraded the former position of Assistant Director of Fraternities and Sororities to a director-level position and established a larger office space and campus presence for Greek Life. In addition, Phi Delta Theta and Tau Kappa Epsilon re-colonized and were key components to this effort, contributing to the growth in fraternity participation. The University also has assisted Iota Phi Theta, Omega Psi Phi, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta as they reestablished at Southeast this past year.
Southeast has seen increased student participation in Greek Life over the past few years. Interfraternity Council membership has increased from 507 in fall 2010 to 649 in fall 2014. Participation in the Panhellenic sororities also is increasing – 461 in fall 2010 to 637 in fall 2014 — and the University is in the early stages of discussing sorority expansion with the Greek community. Gamma Phi Beta, which received their charter in November 1994, was the last Panhellenic sorority to join the University. Last fall, the Southeast National Panhellenic Council met with chapter members, advisers and University staff to consider expanding Southeast’s sorority system. That process will continue next fall as the size of Southeast’s National Panhellenic Council sororities is considered. Membership in National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations also has grown from 1,005 in fall 2010 to 1,322 in fall 2014.
According to Below, strategic planning for Greek Life is underway with assistance from the Fraternity and Sorority Coalition Project, a partnership including the Association of Fraternity Advisers, the National Panhellenic Conference, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations and the North-American Interfraternity Conference charged with reviewing the health of fraternity and sorority communities. The Coalition visited Southeast in March, meeting with students, faculty, staff, group advisors and administrators. Their follow-up report and recommendations will be used to develop the strategic plan, she said.