Grayson College recently decided on building and renovation plans for its Denison campus that will benefit students and school personnel.


The board of trustees ultimately struck a balance between the need for more dorm rooms and adding space for classrooms and offices, approving a still fluid building plan that would add roughly 58 beds in the form of an additional building connected to the school’s current dorm, Viking Hall, and approximately 15,000 square feet of new academic space for offices and classrooms.


The trustees considered construction and renovation designs generated by the Huckabaee Architects for the campus at large, with specific focuses on increasing academic space, adding dorm rooms and a manufacturing classroom.


The board was presented with five different master construction plans, that varied based on the prioritization of academic space over residential space and vice versa. Each of the plans added up to approximately $12 million, a budgetary amount that the college would take from its reserves but one that Grayson College President Jeremy McMillen stressed wouldn’t break the bank. The most dorm-centric plan added 140 new beds and only 3,600 square feet for offices and classrooms, while the plan most focused on increasing academic space added 30,000 square feet for classrooms and offices and actually eliminated 24 beds.


Board chair Ronnie Cole was quick to say he wasn’t in favor of reducing the college’s number of beds and reminded the trustees that the master construction plan was born largely out of the board’s belief that the school needed more on-campus, residential space.


“When we first started this entire conversation, we talked about a new dorm and adding beds,” Cole said. “That’s what we predicated this whole theory on — that we needed a dorm.”


But McMillen cautioned the board that it would need to be aware of two factors affecting the college’s return if it did invest heavily in residential space — the number of students paying for room and board and whether all rooms were occupied.


The college president went on to say that Grayson was running out of room for its students to learn and for its employees to work.


“We do feel a real crunch for office space and educational space,” McMillen said.


Board member Rad Richardson agreed, adding that educational space is at the heart of Grayson College’s mission and success.


“Academic space is the very reason we’re here,” Richardson said.


The board unanimously approved consideration of the preliminary construction designs for the campus. McMillen said he expects the new space to open and operating in January 2018.