BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Hundreds of students at Be-thune-Cookman University (B-CU) now have a new place to live on campus.
A ribbon cutting and naming ceremony for the new Thomas and Joyce Hanks Moorehead Residential Life Center, located on McLeod Avenue, was held on April 22.
Students, faculty, administration, board of trustees, city and community officials attended all attended.
The Mooreheads are major donors to the institution. Mrs. Moorehead also is an alumnus and second vice chair of B-CU’s board of trustees.
“I grew up nearby here in Crescent City. My family knew both Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and A. Phillip Randolph. All of my family members that went to college attended Bethune-Cookman. My husband and I want to make a legacy, give back and touch lives. We appreciate this honor,” said Mrs. Moorehead.
Baseball legend attends
The event included songs by the school’s gospel chorale and tours of the building.
Major League Baseball legend Hank Aaron was also there.
“I am friends with Thomas and Joyce. We both own BMW dealerships. They have been more successful with it than I have. They both like doing for kids. This building is very important with the growth of this institution and the students’ growth. We all want the kids to be successful. My wife works with the United Negro College Fund. This is my first time on this campus. It’s a beautiful place,” Aaron said.
The new state-of the-art campus living and learning facility addresses a major need for the school, which is student housing.
“Greatness continues. These buildings add to the upgrades of the school’s infrastructure. It makes us more competitive and gives the students a better living and learning experience,” commented Bornisha Porter, associate vice president/dean of student affairs for B-CU.
Jakeria White stated, “This is a fresh start and breaking ground for our school. This building is more modern.’’
White is a sophomore elementary education major who will live and work in the building as both a student and residential aide.
“It is a very interesting experience. I get to see and experience the students, faculty and administration on a different level. I get to see what needs to be addressed. I get to help students with firsthand knowledge. I get to help the building run smoothly,” White told the Daytona Times.
At one point, the university had 900 students living off campus. In the fall of 2014, 300 students had to leave school because of the lack of housing.
B-CU is hoping that more on-campus housing will help with public safety. There are about 3,800 students currently enrolled at the university.
In the fall, B-CU require that sophomores live on campus. In the past, that policy just impacted freshman.
Since February 2015, 13 B-CU students have been shot, mostly off campus.
“We can better keep them safe on campus. It helps us keep a better eye on them,” said Porter.
Added White, “Many students have moved back on campus. We have increased our bed capacity and moved students closer to us. This helps students with their educational process as well.’’
School officials are excited about the new residence hall.
“This is an exciting time. This makes a difference in the lives of the students who attend this university. We are very proud. We just so also happen to be one of the top-ranked small school research institutions, which is an HBCU,” commented Dr. Joe Petrock, chairman of B-CU’s board of trustees.
Dr. Edison Jackson, president of B-CU, noted, “We thank Thomas and Joyce. They are marvelous people who never stop giving. This great institution is on a mission. This is part of God’s mission.
Our founder, Dr. Bethune, had a vision and a mission from God every since she started this institution on land that was a garbage dump. Many didn’t believe this could happen.’’
The new residence hall is also co-ed. It currently houses 400 students but that soon will increase to 646.
More dorm space soon will be available. Another residential facility is due to be completed in July, which is located at Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard and Lincoln Street. With that building, there will be enough housing for 3,000 students.
The new building, which is part of a $72 million residence hall project, has state-of-the-art features and the latest technology, including a workout facility, classrooms, lounges, classrooms, study rooms, multi-purpose rooms, card key access, and laundry rooms.
Students have been living in that facility since March.