• Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023

Central State University breaks ground for new living, learning environment for students, faculty 

Part of major CSU construction program

By Debbie Alberico

Central State University

A little over a year ago, the Central State University Board of Trustees approved a plan for a new living community specifically designed for non-traditional students, faculty and staff. The project represents a major priority for the University and key to its aggressive growth over the next couple of years. The cost of this facility is close to $8.1 million. The groundbreaking for this living community was in December.  

According to the University’s development partner University Housing Solutions, the Shorter Road Apartment community covers 26,900 square feet with 72 beds and 24 apartment style units and is scheduled for completion this summer.  

Shorter Road Apartments is a part of a $65 million expansion project called Project Innovation which includes the construction of six more buildings over the next 36 months. “This is a big investment for Central State University. I must say that these are exciting times,” Central State University Dr. Jack Thomas, said.  “We want to create a culture of academic achievement and service that permeates every aspect of University life and pushes all students, faculty, and staff to a level of excellence never seen before. Structures like the one we are breaking ground on today send a signal to students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community that Central State University is committed to excellence and innovation.”

According to Vice President of Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer Curtis Pettis, the University is growing and the upgrades to campus are necessary. “As we see the needs of the world and the community, and in preparing our students, we must have facilities that allow them to compete with any of the different new industries that are coming forth. As a university, we must make sure that we compete nationally and globally. We want to place the institution where students can do well. The growth in enrollment and the need to serve our students in preparing them for the world, for careers beyond Central State, creates the need for growth and development,” he said in the August edition of a President’s Corner Podcast.

Artist renderings of Central State University on Shorter Road off campus apartment community for students, faculty, and staff. Graphics provided

Thomas says, the University is being innovative in how the project is being funded. Pettis said in the Podcast, “it is not paid for through state capital. We uniquely set up this project to get stakeholders in the community, the corporate sector, investing in the future of Central State. Several years ago, we submitted a ‘P3’ which is a public, private, partnership. We solicited developers who could envision what we were going to do. We selected University Housing Solutions to become a partner. A ‘P3’ developer is the one that finances the total project and works in concert with the university to develop the university’s vision. University Housing Solutions is building, coordinating, and helping us deliver the plans of Project Innovation.”  

Along with the new Shorter Road Apartment project, Project Innovation includes the construction of the College of Health and Human Services, CSU Recreation and Wellness Center, Facilities and Logistics Center, Stadium Residential Hall East, Honors Residential Hall and Administration Center, and Honors Residential Hall West. All projects will be complete by fall 2024. 

CSU Director of Facilities Milt Thompson commented, “I can tell you that in the 30 years that I have been working in educational institutions, I have never been on such a fast track of innovation and building all at one time. Hats off to Dr. Thomas, the Board of Trustees, and the Central State leadership.”  

Thompson added, “these innovative projects will advance our university to be able to make Central State a destination venue not just a place where Central State is today but a great Historically Black College or University out here in the cornfield. We can start to see hotels and restaurants and when people say I want to go on vacation and visit Central State they are here because there there’s other innovative things going on, not only in CSU but in the Wilberforce Xenia community.”   

“Students can come here and get a world-class education,” Thomas said. “We have an outstanding faculty and staff who are second to none, and we encourage our students to think big, to dream big and achieve their goals. If our dreams do not scare us, then they are not big enough!”