DALLAS (BP)–Criswell College has announced the $1.1 million purchase of a seven-story residential building adjacent to its main facility east of downtown Dallas to provide much-needed dormitory space for a growing enrollment.
In a May 14 meeting with faculty and staff, the college’s president, Richard Wells, announced the plan, calling it a key to future growth.
“In its 31-year history, the college has never had housing for students. It is just essential, particularly for younger students,” Wells said, noting that almost every week he receives contacts from prospective students wondering where they will live. “As we contemplate moving toward a liberal arts program, this is vital to our growth.”
Criswell College relocated to 4010 Gaston Ave. in Dallas from the downtown location of First Baptist Church of Dallas in 1991. The school began offering night classes in 1971 and soon grew to provide diploma, bachelor and master’s degree programs. More than 1,100 graduates serve around the world as pastors, missionaries and denominational employees, primarily in the Southern Baptist Convention.
The newly acquired building previously housed a residential rehabilitation facility with housing units that will easily convert for use as dormitory space for 100 to 125 rooms, accommodating 250 students. With a record enrollment reported for the summer semester, the college expects fall enrollment to exceed the 418 students who attended last spring.
Wells said the school would raise approximately $5 million to renovate the facility, providing almost 85,000 square feet of useable space. Plans call for moving the student center and cafeteria to the new location as well as offering a larger bookstore on the ground level that will be open to the community. Although the renovation process is expected to take 18 months, Wells said every effort would be made to utilize part of the facility soon.
“Young people that come in from rural areas or out of state are not real excited about the prospect of having to find their own housing,” stated Lamar Cooper, the college’s executive vice president and provost. “This answers that problem and also gives us a sense of campus community. That’s an important element in developing leadership among our students.”