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The 440-bed Catherine Cater Hall, as envisioned in this architect's rendering, will be devoted to housing sophomores on the North Dakota State University campus. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held Tuesday, Sept. 12. Construction of the dorm is expected to be finished in May 2019, and it should be ready for occupation by students with the start of classes in fall 2019, NDSU officials said. NDSU / Special to Forum News Service

Construction underway on 440-bed sophomore dorm at NDSU

FARGO — Future North Dakota State University sophomores will have more living space on campus thanks to a project underway just south of Newman Outdoor Field.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday, Sept. 12, for the $39.5 million Catherine Cater Hall.

The 440-bed residence hall will be ready for students by fall 2019. It will be dedicated to sophomores, who have found themselves squeezed out of campus housing after their freshman year, NDSU officials said.

With heavy construction machinery as a backdrop, President Dean Bresciani said the dorm, which will be paid for using student housing fees, is important to the school and hundreds of students on housing waiting lists.

"Students who live on campus perform dramatically better on an academic level than students who don't live on campus," Bresciani said.

"Our sophomores are most vulnerable when they move off campus," he said, where the distractions of life away from school can cause 19-year-olds to lose their academic focus.

"Keeping those sophomores on campus is an important piece of our retention and graduation success as a university," Bresciani said. "And our state never before has more needed NDSU graduates to complete their degrees and go into the workforce than we're experiencing today."

The dormitory, along with other construction projects on or near campus, is meant to trim waiting lists for campus housing, said Rian Nostrum, director of residence life.

It "symbolizes our commitment to our second-year students," Nostrum said. "No longer will they compete with juniors and seniors" for on-campus housing.

Cater, for whom the residence hall is named, was a teacher and mentor to NDSU students.

According to a biography supplied by NDSU, Cater came to the area in 1948 to teach for a year at what was then called Moorhead State Teacher College (now Minnesota State University Moorhead), and stayed there until 1962.

She then joined the NDSU English department. At NDSU, she started and directed the university's Scholars Program and chaired the graduate program in English. She retired in 1982, but continued to teach and volunteer. She was 98-years-old when she died in 2015 at Bethany Homes in Fargo.

Nostrum said every floor of the new residence hall will have a study room and a lobby with seating. The suite-style double rooms will share private bathrooms.

The first floor will have a double-sided fireplace for the living room and kitchen areas, a media room, game room, and large and small conference spaces.

The start of the project will be noisy for the next four to six weeks for students living in nearby dorms. About 250 pilings must be driven to help provide a stable foundation for the building, Nostrum said. "It's going to be disruptive."

Nostrum said a small number of parking spaces will be lost during construction of the dorm, which is going up next to a lot that's used by many students who commute to campus. Once the dorm is complete, students living there will have parking in the two large surface lots just west of the building site, he said. Commuters will be directed to park in other lots on the periphery of campus, he said.

Other projects underway include the $11 million renovation of the 207-bed Churchill Hall and the first-phase replacement of University Village housing.

The $10 million University Village project is expected to be completed by Aug. 1, 2018. The project removed six existing buildings to create one four-story building for upperclassmen and graduate students. It will have 86 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, plus lounges.

The NDSU Foundation and developer PROffutt Ltd. is building a $23 million apartment complex along North University Drive just east of the university's Sanford Health Athletic Complex. The project is to include a mix of two- and four-bedroom apartments providing 344 beds. It will also have retail space as well as 258 parking spaces, 90 of them below ground. It is planned for completion by the end of July 2018.