Demolition began Tuesday to make way for the construction of a new residence hall at Bethany College. The new building will house 200 to 250 students and is expected to be completed by fall 2015.
Deere Hall, a former residence hall that originally housed 170 students and was vacated in 2007, will be torn down for the new construction. It is located on the northwest corner of Bethany’s campus. Deere Hall was completed in 1958 and a second wing was added in 1962. It was named for Emil O. Deere a professor and dean of the college.
In its assessment of the project, college staff determined that it would not be feasible to remodel the former residence hall due to capacity limitations as well as costs associated with remodeling versus demolition. Sunflower Development Group of Kansas City is the developer for the project.
In May, the Bethany College Board of Directors empowered the college staff to move forward with a plan to provide new housing for students to accommodate the growth in enrollment. Enrollment has grown almost 40 percent from 537 in 2007 to more than 700 this fall. It represents the largest seven-year enrollment growth in the last 40 years and this year’s new class of freshmen, at 188, is the largest fall enrollment in 20 years.
Additionally, Bethany President Edward F. Leonard III has set a goal to grow enrollment to 1,000 by 2021.