Alderson-Broaddus College officials announced Saturday that they will soon be laying not just the foundation of a new residential village, but also the foundation for continued growth.
An expansion to the campus is taking place with the construction of new residential village, adding more than 400 new beds that will allow for an additional 400 new students for next year.
President Richard A. Creehan said students designed the four new residential halls with the assistance of an architectural firm he referred to as "The Collaborative."
"The students are very excited," Student Government Association Vice President Caleb Villers said.
"They understand the growth that's coming. They understand the changes that have to happen on this campus to keep us thriving."
Creehan and other officials ceremoniously broke ground Saturday for the new residential village on the campus of Alderson-Broaddus College. The concrete foundation will be poured before winter, and the remaining construction will resume in the spring. The project is expected to be completed before the next academic year.
"It's what enables so many good things to happen for A-B," said Stephen Whitehead, the executive vice president for Partners Development. "I think what it provides for students is going to be so exciting."
Whitehead said the new residences could allow the college to open up to a more diverse student body. Out-of-state students attending the college comprise about 60 percent of the college's enrollment, according to Sarah Ward, the dean of student affairs.
"Residential living is a very crucial part to our strategic plan here on campus," Ward said. "It creates a sense of vibrancy and involvement immediately by them being here. Today we write another page in the history books of our college."
The four buildings that will make up the new residential village are no longer a dream for students, faculty and friends of the college. The new residential village and other recent or ongoing changes to the college are just the beginning.
"It really is exciting to see everything happening on campus," said Dr. Ronald Burbick, the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Burbick said the residential halls are only the first phase of a 15-year multi-phase project. Some other projects will include the renovation of existing dormitories and other buildings on campus.
Delegate Mary Poling, D-Barbour and a member of the Board of Trustees, said the student body will continue to grow now that expansion plans are in place for the Philippi campus.
"I think the residential village is a necessity to accommodate the enrollment growth," Poling said.
Expanding the residential resources of the campus is vital to the success of college as a whole, Ward said.
"Without this additional housing, we'd be limited on the number of students we would be able to take in for the fall of 2013," Ward said. "So we're very excited. We'll be able to go ahead and bring in another large freshman class and also provide these housing opportunities for upperclassmen."
Creehan said the announcement of the project, along with Saturday's groundbreaking, is because of the vision held by the college's leadership.
"It's been a long journey to get to this point," Creehan said. "We could not be where we are today without our trustees. Their dedication, passion and commitment to this institution is something that I've never seen before. When we exhaust this inventory, we're going to need to build again."
With more than 800 students currently enrolled, rooms filled up quickly at the college this fall. The Erickson Alumni Center was temporarily converted into a residence hall to accommodate the influx of students.
"If you would have told me two years ago that we were going to be needing more residence halls, I would not have believed you," Villers said. "I remember sitting in the dorm, thinking that all these rooms are empty. Almost everyone had a single, and we're never going to fill them all up. These new halls are just a sign of A-B's growth, of how we're growing and changing as a campus."
The four new residential halls have not yet been named, and officials are temporarily referring to them as "Terrace Site" and "Plant Site," because of their construction locations. Each site will contain an apartment-style complex and a suite-style complex.
"It's good for Philippi, and it's good for the college," Philippi Mayor Jerry Mouser said. "I'm just hoping the city can keep up."