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WSSU celebrates opening of $24 million residence hall

WSSU's new H. Douglas Covington Hall, named for a former chancellor, will accommodate nearly 300 students starting in August.

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson joined members of the university’s Board of Trustees, administrators and elected officials to cut the ribbon on Thursday, June 7, on a $24 million living/learning community for first-time freshmen.

The five-story residence hall, designed to help students succeed, will accommodate nearly 300 students and open in August.

“When someone asks, ‘What kind of facilities do you see at Winston-Salem State?’ I want to be able to say, ‘What kind of facilities do they have at the world’s great universities and the best universities?” Robinson said. “That is what this is about.”

The ribbon cutting was part of two days of events celebrating the new residence hall. On Friday, June 8, the WSSU Board of Trustees voted to officially name the building H. Douglas Covington Hall. Covington served as WSSU’s chancellor from 1977-84.

Rising freshman enrollment over the past five years, and a requirement that all students live on campus for their first two years, have created a demand for on-campus housing.

Building Features

For the majority of college students, the center of their environment is their residence hall. Located within the campus core, the new building will help meet the demand for on-campus housing but, more importantly, create a living-learning environment that will have a lasting impression on a student’s college experience.

“At WSSU, we believe that learning takes place throughout and across the college,” said William Gibson, WSSU’s 2018-19 Student Government Association president. “Living on campus is not just a place to lay your head; it also means being a part of a community that supports your educational pursuits in all areas of development.”

H. Douglas Covington Hall features:

  • Multiple common areas to encourage student interaction, academic activities, and co-curricular events.
  • Academic-oriented multipurpose space, a seminar room, a computer lab, study rooms, and an academic research center.
  • Private rooms grouped in pods of between 14 and 17 double-occupancy bedrooms and a single-occupancy room for a resident assistant with comfortable shared space for study and social interaction. Research finds that the pod design allows students to better get to know each other and engage at a higher level, which improves overall student outcomes.
  • A central community kitchen with seating areas, and an on-site laundry that can be used by all residents.
  • Two, two-bedroom apartments for faculty-in-residence and staff.

WSSU is aiming for LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for sustainable/environmental design. Nearly half of all materials installed in the building were manufactured, harvested or recovered within 500 miles. Also, 96 percent of Dillard Hall, the building that was demolished, was diverted from landfills, primarily through recycling.

For the construction, there was more than 50 percent Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) participation, exceeding the original 30 percent involvement goal.

This is one of two major construction projects at WSSU. Construction on a $53 million sciences building is expected to be completed in later 2019.

H. Douglas Covington Hall: At a Glance

  • Size: Five-stories + basement, 70,000-square-foot
  • Capacity: 150 bedrooms to accommodate 291 students
  • Total cost: $24 million
  • Architect: Lord Aeck Sargent
  • Builder/Construction Manager: Balfour Beatty Holt/Joint Venture 

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

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