Morgan State will spend $30 million on a complete renovation of its Baldwin and Cummings residential halls, transforming them from 1950s-era facilities into more modern living spaces for around 200 students.
“These are post-World War II facilities,” said Sidney Evans, Jr., executive vice president for finance and administration at the school. “They are just not conducive for the 21st century.”
The traditional stone facade of the two residence halls will remain in place while the insides will be gutted, he said. During the renovations of Baldwin and Cummings next year, the students who would normally be in the dorms will be placed in three apartment buildings that Morgan State leases,Evans said. Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. won a $1.5 million contract for pre-construction services for the project at the state Board of Public Works meeting on Wednesday.
Morgan State took out a $65 million loan with the federal HBCU Capital Financing Program to pay for the dorm renovations along with several other campus improvements. The loan will help Morgan State complete the renovation of the Murphy Fine Arts Center, the Hurt Gymnasium and other deferred campus maintenance. The program provides a low-interest-rate loan that is approved by the federal government. The institution previously used the loan to finance the public safety building at Northwood Commons, Evans said.
“It’s the most cost-efficient way for HBCUs to borrow,” he added. “When I first presented this to the Morgan Board of Regents, [Board of Public Works], and the capital vulnerability committee they were so impressed with this program, they said, ‘why hasn’t Morgan done this before?’”
In recent years, the university has taken several steps to build more housing in response to a massive influx of students. Earlier this year, the HBCU completed the Thurgood Marshall Housing complex and is now constructing a 604-bed tower addition. Thurgood Marshall was the first new on-campus student housing built in 31 years at Morgan State, Evans said.
Along with the renovations to Baldwin and Cummings, the university is planning to renovate another older student dorm in 2024 and tear down the aging O’Connell Hall student housing dorm to build a new residential facility, Evans said.
The university currently has a total enrollment of over 9,100 students, a new record, with only 2,119 beds on campus, according to a Morgan State spokesperson. The university signed a partnership last year with the Lord Baltimore Hotel downtown to house an additional 440 students because of the lack of on-campus housing options. The Board of Public Works in November approved a $1.7 million extension of Morgan State’s lease with the hotel to provide 248 beds for students until next May.
“Our enrollment projections exceeded our expectations,” Evans said. “So we’re trying to bring things back in line.”