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Posted on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Some U-M freshmen luck out with renovated dorms: 'This is what $56 million looks like'

By Kellie Woodhouse


University of Michigan freshman Jenny Veith, of New York, laughs as her new roommate and Tatianna Kroha, of California, shows off a broken broom and dust pan damaged in the move as Veith's mom Pam looks on Wednesday morning during move-in at Alice Lloyd Hall.

Melanie Maxwell I

Three years ago, then-freshman Anna Peters avoided the bathroom of her University of Michigan dormitory as much as possible.

"I would actually dread going to the bathroom it was so disgusting," the now-senior said of her residence hall, Alice Lloyd Hall. "And everything was dirty. The mattresses were old."


Colorful chairs and pendent lights decorate a lounge area in the newly renovated Alice Lloyd Hall at the University of Michigan.

Melanie Maxwell I

But as Peters helped her sister Amanda, a freshman, unpack her belongings into her room in Alice Lloyd Wednesday, she said she barely recognized the residence hall.

"It looks like a hotel compared to what it was before," Peters said.

And it's true. With glass-walled meeting and conference rooms, flatscreen televisions tucked in the corners of hallways and 45 types of chairs scattered throughout the roughly 560-bed dormitory, Alice Lloyd is now one of the most-coveted residence halls on campus.

The residence hall underwent a $56 million renovation last year and reopened this week.

"This is unbelievable," Peters said, gesturing around her. Her sister's room has a large window and the beds have silver Michigan emblems on them. "Most freshmen don’t live in this nice of a dorm."

U-M junior Serena Sana, one of 700 volunteers helping new students move into their residence halls, said students and parents are "shocked" by the renovated hall.

"They're like 'This doesn't even look like a dorm,' " Sana said. As a freshman, Sana lived in Alice Lloyd.

"I don’t recognize any of the lower floors," she said. "The rooms are nice; they're huge. The bathrooms are amazing."

Alice Lloyd's renovation is part of U-M President Mary Sue Coleman's Residential Life Initiative, which will have invested $440 million in dormitory renovations over the course of seven years.

The current $116 million renovation of East Quadrangle is the latest project. Last fall Couzens Hall reopened after a $49 million renovation. In an interview earlier this year, Coleman called the initiative one of her top accomplishments since coming to U-M in 2002.

"I'm a great believer that it's the holistic experiences that students have at college and a university setting that really make them what they become in their careers," Coleman said.


The line for the elevator as University of Michigan Move-In-Makers help students move into Alice Lloyd Hall on Wednesday morning.

Melanie Maxwell I

"We hadn't done much with our residence halls in the previous 35 years, so when we really started this it was a huge task," she continued. "I am proud of the fact that we have marched down the heritage halls and made them much more interesting in terms of intellectual engagement."

The multimillion-dollar renovation equipped the dormitory with a new community learning center and living room, several lounges and study rooms —some equipped with new iMac desktops,— and an art room, a dance studio, a kitchen, a music room and a game room.

It's a setup that arguably rivals the two off-campus luxury student housing high rises that opened this summer.

"We got really lucky living here as freshmen," said Jessie White, who was thrilled that the shower stalls having changing rooms for privacy.

Freshman Carven Leong was assigned student housing at Bursley Hall, a 1,270-bed dormitory that opened in 1967 and has not had a major renovation since.

"Bursley is slightly older. Initially when I moved in I was like, 'OK?' " Leong said.

Patrick Baumhart, a sophomore, knows the feeling. He lived in Bursley Hall on North Campus last year. This year he lucked out with an Alice Lloyd assignment.

"The is what [$56] million looks like," he said. "The bathrooms are significantly better than everything about Bursley."

About 9,700 students will live on campus this year, the majority of them freshmen. Slightly more than one-third of U-M students live on campus.

This year nearly 2,400 students live in dorms that have been built or renovated since 2007. Most freshmen are assigned housing by lottery unless they're in an academic program that requires specific housing, such as the Lloyd Hall Scholars program, a residential learning community for students interested in writing and art.

Although many college graduates have stories of living in older, less flashy dormitories, colleges are now competing with one another to provide a top-notch residential life experience.

“It is a serious contender for the overall quality of a student’s experience," U-M housing director Linda Newman told last year.

Nonetheless, as Baumhart puts it, the new Alice Lloyd Hall "is probably more amazing than anything [new students] could have pictured."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Captain Magnificent

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

More Obama Socialism if you ask me.

music to my ear

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

If they keep making these dorm room so posh these students may become lifelong students never going out on thier own, they ll have everything a young student would need I have seen lots of students who keep changing thier major just to stay in the college scene called career students

Michigan Reader

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

"I'm a great believer it's the holistic experiences that students have at college and a university setting that really make them what they become in their careers," said Coleman. Yeah, an entitlement mentality.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

I guess I'm old fashioned, but I don't find anything "holistic" about flat screen TVs and monogrammed beds. It's a stupid waste of money. That's why I no longer donate to my Alma Mater.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

""I'm a great believer that it's the holistic experiences that students have at college and a university setting that really make them what they become in their careers," Coleman said." LOL, Ya Right. You're wecome for me reading Kellie Woodhouse. Any articles about Eastern coming soon and their dorm life?


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

I thought the whole point of basic dorm rooms was to encourage students to go out and study in libraries. Spend more time away from the place where you sleep, watch tv and be distracted.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Superb, now Michigan needs to strive to give the same quality on campus residential experience to every undergraduate who wants a world class on campus residential learning environment.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Are most of the LUCK kids "out of the state"? Their parents have paid much more comparing with "the in state".

Rob MI

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

While tuition costs vary by your state of residency (and school/college), room and board rates are the same regardless of where students park their rear ends during the summer months.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

A Pakistani doctor once described to me what he saw as a general difference between the U.S. and his country. In the US, people would congratulate those who had received. In Pakistan people would knife anyone who received more. Don't knock the spending on this project as the millions were paid to construction laborers, and those hourly workers who harvested or refined raw materials to make the products used in construction. The economy and quality of life of everyone is improved by this sort of economic activity.

Jim Osborn

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

It looks very nice, and I'm glad that the traditional building was kept. Now we know why college costs keep rising so fast. Paid by loans or grants or the rich.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

I like the Picture provided of two typical freshmen one from New York and the other from California. This is a STATE supported University, for residents of the State, Right?


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

When I was at U of M (93-96), I would say 80% of the people I interacted with were from other states and countries. And via that interaction, it fueled my interest to move out East after graduation, and do more overseas travel. The diversity of where people come from to attend U of M is what makes that university stand out from the rest here in Michigan, and the Mid-west for that matter.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Only about 15% of the UM budget comes from state allocated funds, so it's a pretty small %. In addition, the state legislature dictates that 70% of UM freshmen come from in-state. Kind of a screwed up formula.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

I don't care if they come from Mars if they qualify and are willing to pay the freight. Ironically if the State of Michigan ended financial support the University of Michigan would just privatize with accompanying tuition hikes. Many in state students would be turned away in favor of more qualified out of state people- that's what private institutions do.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

In addition to the out-of-staters' invaluable contribution to "the richness and diversity of the experience at UofM", they also contribute financially, since out-of-state tuition is much higher than in-state tuition. Here are the numbers for 1st and 2d year students: $39,122 for outstaters, $12,944 for locals. As for the frequently-trumpeted thought that U-M is a "state-supported" school, not so much. This year the legislature's support is $273 Million out of a total budget of between $5-5 and $6 Billion. That's under 5%.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

XMO--Of course it is a STATE supported university. However, it is the students coming from other states and other countries which give UofM it's reputation as being a great university. Additionally, students from outside of Michigan contribute invaluably to the richness and diversity of the experience at UofM. I remember the joy of meeting so many different people from so many different places my freshman year while my best friend who went to Michigan State marvelled, "Wow! I think there might be a guy two floors down from me in my dorm who is from another state..." I learned far more at UofM from the diversity of the people I was surrounded by than I did in any classroom.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

When I was in college, the dorms were the last place you want to live!


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

enough with the trite articles about Univ of Mich housing-whether its dorms/luxury "units" or run down apts far from campus[plenty of brilliant students are living in those]. If you want to interview students, I'd be more interested in their educational goals and plans and why they chose Univ of Mich-how about all the freshmen students from other countries-what is it like for them deciding to study here and arriving on campus to begin their studies.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 10:59 a.m.

Sometimes, people just get lucky. Hope these kids enjoy their new dorm!


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

GoNavy - First it's GO BLUE! I agree with you 100%. If this generation of students exercised "appreciation" in any form, instead of the "entitled" attitude most of them do have, it will be a miraculous step forward. New, state-of-the-art living is now taken to a new level and I'm afraid they simply feel they deserve it without regard. My bet is that the majority will trash these rooms and halls without a care in the world. Let's hope not.