TWIN FALLS — The College of Southern Idaho is exploring how much money it can borrow to build a new dormitory on campus.

Trustees voted unanimously Monday to move forward with the process of issuing bonds, but there’s no timeline yet when construction might begin, nor a firm cost estimate.

When asked for an explanation of the rationale behind the project by trustee Jan Mittleider, Vice President of Student Services Michelle Schutt cited a lack of housing in Twin Falls. Plus, she said, living on campus provides benefits for students such as higher grade point averages, retention and graduation rates.

“We want them to be here, and that’s what housing creates,” she said.

Living on campus also provides a level of safety and social interaction in a central place that’s “more of a college experience instead of a commuter campus,” trustee Jack Nelsen said.

The new dorm will be on CSI’s Twin Falls campus near the existing 240-bed Eagle Hall — currently, the only residence hall. CSI also manages the off-campus Northview and Eagle View apartments.

The new dorm could also include the main commercial kitchen for CSI’s campus, instead of in the Taylor Building’s cafeteria.

If a new dorm is built, it will mean a total of 400 beds between the new dorm and a future remodel of Eagle Hall.

CSI’s dormitory housing commission — which oversees college-owned student housing — met last week and recommended college trustees move forward with choosing a financing team, including a bond underwriter and attorney. They’ll do a feasibility study for a new residence hall.

“By doing this, this will allow us to take the next steps,” vice president of administration Jeff Harmon said.

He told the CSI board they’re not selecting an architect at this point. The financing team will determine how much money the college can afford to borrow for the project.

“We’re really looking at the feasibility and what we can do in terms of debt repayment,” Harmon said.

Nelsen said he wanted to clarify for the sake of transparency the board is addressing two issues: whether to build a new residence hall and whether to move the cafeteria into the new dorm.

Schutt said she hopes a new residence hall — a contemporary layout with apartment-like suites — will help with recruiting students, including student-athletes.

There’s also a potential revenue stream the college hasn’t fully considered, Schutt said: renting out the space for summer events such as conferences.

During their meeting, trustees also:

  • Approved two new collections for the Herrett Center for Arts and Science — which were donated — including 26 paintings and drawings, and 47 artifacts such as masks, baskets and headdresses.

Library and museum director Teri Fattig also gave an update on activities at the Herrett Center over the past year.

Changes focus on employees and are procedural-based clarifications, human resources director Eric Nielson said. Topics include the internal hiring process, and vacation, personal, sick and disability leave.

  • Heard a president’s report.

After four years operating an outreach center in Idaho Falls, CSI has closed it, since eastern Idaho now has a community college.

  • Changed the date for January’s board meeting to Jan. 29 due to a scheduling conflict with the state legislative session.
  • Heard a report about the college’s new alumni association.