Baylor University’s board of regents on Friday authorized $31 million in facility improvement projects and also approved a new doctoral program in the School of Education.

Work will begin this summer on a $19 million renovation to upgrade Penland Hall, a male dormitory built in 1960. The project will include updating furniture and fixtures in the dorm rooms, creating new study and social spaces, adding apartments for the faculty-in-residence and a resident chaplain, and upgrading the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, according to a Baylor press release.

“The dorms, it’s where the kids live and it’s their home, and we need to be able to give them the accommodations people use now,” board Chairman Richard Willis said.

“The layouts will be a little different, and some of the facilities within the dorm will be a little different. It just really reflects more of the lifestyle students live today.”

The Penland Hall renovation is the third residence hall improvement project the university has undertaken in the past three years. The board previously approved $12 million to remodel South Russell residence hall, which was completed last year, while a $16 million renovation of North Russell is set to be finished this summer.

Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said the higher price tag for the Penland Hall upgrades is because of its larger size, housing 562 students compared to the 220-bed capacity in South Russell and 410 for North Russell.

The university plans to renovate seven more residence halls by the summer of 2021, with the projects totaling $140 million, Fogleman said.

Willis said the residence halls will each lose 10 to 15 percent of total bed capacity during the remodels, with much of that space converted into community areas for students.

“When we built East Village (residence hall) two years ago, what that did was it gave us an opportunity to take one dorm down a year and renovate,” Willis said. “We’ll keep moving throughout the university to keep rehabbing the dorms for the students.”

In addition to the Penland Hall renovation, the regents also approved spending $4.6 million to expand Memorial Dining Hall to include seating for 600 students, as well as $7.2 million to upgrade the Baylor Energy Complex and Electrical Substation to increase the electrical capacity to support future additions to campus.

New doctorate

In other action, the regents approved the creation of an education doctorate in K-12 educational leadership to launch this June. The program will focus on best practices for school administrators while emphasizing Christian character and principles.

“When you talk about education, we’re not talking about just creating superintendents for Christian schools,” Willis said. “We’re looking at people that have the right value set so that when they are successful and they get to be a principal or superintendent, that value set helps them and really makes a difference and helps with the children.”

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