Crowded residence halls have sparked the University”s interest in moving forward with the construction of a new hall, the first to be built since 1968.

“We obviously have housing needs,” University Provost Nancy Cantor said yesterday.

At tomorrow”s monthly meeting at the Lurie Engineering Building on North Campus, the University”s Board of Regents is expected to authorize the University to look into the construction of the residence hall.

Specifically, the University will look into possible architects and site locations before returning to the regents with their recommendations.

While Cantor said the new residence hall is in the “very early planning stage,” she said it fits with the University”s initiatives to enhance the undergraduate experience on campus.

The increase in living-learning communities and the consideration of technology in the residence halls come from the same goals as the new hall, Cantor said.

“From my perspective, it”s important to increase the academic programs in dorms, to provide more opportunities for casual interaction between undergraduates and faculty, and between freshmen and upper-class students,” Cantor said.

“The idea is to provide spaces for rich interaction,” she added.

Residence Hall Association President Jason Taylor, an LSA senior, noted other advantages available in the construction.

“What excites me is that this is a rare opportunity for students and administrators to work together to build a residence hall,” Taylor said.

University Housing Director Alan Levy said it”s too early to comment on the new residence hall.

In November, University President Lee Bollinger said one of Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper”s first responsibilities in her new position would be to look into improvements in residence hall living. Harper would not comment on the issue of a new hall yesterday.

But Bollinger said he recognized the demand for more housing.

“It”s clear to me that we need at least one new hall,” he said at the time.

He added that improvements in the current residence halls, including innovative programmingprogramming and counseling options, could entice more upper-class students to remain on campus, which would encourage unity and discussion among students at various levels.

Taylor also addressed the needs of older students.

“I would like to see this plan relate to upper-class and graduate students who have really been put out because of the housing crunch,” Taylor said.

He said that on-campus housing for older students could cause Ann Arbor landlords to provide better housing rates, as they have a lesser pool of tenants to appeal to.

“This has the opportunity to have a huge impact not only on the on campus market but also the off campus market,” Taylor said

The regents are also expected to move forward in other campus construction, including the approval of an architect for the Walgreen Drama Center, which will be located east of the Power Center.

The Regents will be asked to appoint SmithGroup, Inc. as the architect of the record, and Michael Wilford Architects, Ltd. as the designers of the center.

While tomorrow”s meeting will address the regular business agenda and public comments, the regents will reconvene Friday morning in the Fleming Administration Building for financial reports and to approve recommendations for new appointments and promotions of University faculty.

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