Campus News

UK’s Housing Proposal in National Spotlight Again

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 25, 2012) — A $500 million proposal to enter into a public-private partnership to build residence halls for up to 9,000 beds on the University of Kentucky campus is receiving national attention again.

The first page of the business section in the Jan. 25 edition of The New York Times examines the growing trend among universities across the country to explore public-private partnerships to build and manage residence halls.

The article cites institutions such as the University of California–Irvine, Arizona State University and Portland State University as among the universities considering such arrangements. The proposal UK is considering would be, perhaps, the most extensive among any public research institutions in the country.

UK is negotiating with Education Realty Trust, a Memphis-based company, to renovate and expand from the university’s current housing stock of 5,100 beds to up to 9,000 over the next several years. The plan, if enacted by UK and its Board of Trustees, would result in some $500 million in investment in the university’s housing stock. UK’s proposal also was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal.

UK President Eli Capilouto said the decision about whether to enter into a public-private partnership will center on whether it’s the best deal for students in terms of living and learning space and long-term costs. The examination of housing is part of what Capilouto calls the “Kentucky Promise,” a long-range plan to revitalize the core of UK’s campus and focus on enhancing the undergraduate education experience.

“This is their core business,” Angela Martin, UK’s vice president of financial operations, told The New York Times, about Education Realty Trust. “They can build it cheaper. They can build it faster and they can operate it leaner than we can. This is not the university’s core business.”