This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
Residence hall operations will pause after the semester ends at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus.
The one-year hiatus will begin June 30, the college announced in a Tuesday press release, giving administration time to determine how the campus can move forward in the future.
The residence hall was built in 2013 and student occupancy has decreased.
Budget cuts to the University of Alaska system creates less faith in the university, driving down enrollment, Gary Turner, director of Kenai Peninsula College, told the Clarion Tuesday via email. The college has seen more students taking online courses and fewer students attending face-to-face classes at the Kenai River Campus.
As the University continues to address major budget reductions and increase enrollments, it is important to look at all programming and evaluate its impact on the university’s core mission of educating students, Turner said in Tuesday’s release.
Since 2016, the 92-bed hall has been unable to keep the 55 to 60 students needed to break even on the costs of running the residency operation. During last fall there were 21 residents housed on the campus, and 26 residents last spring.
There are 15 students living on campus this semester.
The residence hall hosts local and rural students, as well as students from outside the peninsula and out of state, Turner told the Clarion Tuesday via email.
The college advertises its residence hall through their social media accounts, website and through tours and overnight stays offered to area high school students, he said in the email.
The Kenai Peninsula College is under the larger institution of the University of Alaska, which dictates through Board of Regent policy that residence halls are considered auxiliary units and must be self-sustainable.
The University of Alaska’s Land Management Department reached out to local real estate brokers and appraisers to see if there was interest in leasing the facility for a year. However, no interest was found.
The college will hire a consultant to help develop a plan with the goal of reopening the facility in the future.
If it turns out reopening isn’t viable in the near term, however, the college will consider leasing the residence hall as a “revenue opportunity,” the release said.
The college’s staff will work with current students living in the residence hall to find housing alternatives for the fall semester.
While the building is in hiatus, the hall will be in a “warm status” with all of the utilities remaining connected and monitored by facilities staff.