March 23, 2017

SIU to close Schneider Hall to prepare for demolition

by Crystal Bouhl

CARBONDALE, Ill. – To prepare for the construction of new residence halls, Southern Illinois University Carbondale will close Schneider Hall, one of three halls commonly referred to as “the towers,” following the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse. 

The SIU Board of Trustees on Feb. 9 approved the exploration of financing and construction of one or two new residence halls on the Carbondale campus. The closing of Schneider is one step in a long-term master plan for campus housing. 

Jon Shaffer, director of University Housing, said Schneider Hall will be decommissioned for the fall 2017 semester, allowing time to remove the building’s furnishings, fixtures and fittings before demolition. Items removed from Schneider will be reused in other campus housing areas, including the newly expanded undergraduate student apartments at Evergreen Terrace. 

Before the hall is closed, however, the university will rent rooms to visitors coming to town for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Details are still in development but will be posted at 

Shaffer said that while a timeline for demolition of Schneider and construction of new housing has not been finalized, closing the hall this fall will not displace many students. He noted that three floors of the hall were not utilized for the current academic year. When at capacity, the hall could house up to 719 students, but only 385 students are living in Schneider at this time due to the recent decline in enrollment. Of these, 81 students have contracted for on-campus housing for 2017-18. These students will be offered other on-campus housing options. 

“The efficient use of other residence hall space has provided the opportunity to get a planned head start on the process of taking Schneider down.” he said. “Having time to prepare for new housing will allow us to be strategic with this transition.” 

He added that the housing staff has developed a plan to relocate Schneider-based Living Learning Communities, which give students the chance to live with others who share similar majors or interests, as well as a few other students who may have planned to return to the hall next year. 

He added that closing the hall is likely to have minimal impact on University Housing staffing. 

“With more than 250 full-time employees and more than 700 student employees, University Housing remains one of the largest employers on campus,” he said. “We normally have staff turnover between academic years, which will allow us to relocate many returning Schneider staff into similar roles in other buildings.” 

The closing of Schneider follows a decision by the SIU Board of Trustees to explore a private funding arrangement, commonly referred to as a public/private partnership, for the construction of new housing. In this model, a private developer invests in building the new residence halls on university property. That investment is then repaid through room and board payments over a period of time similar to the traditional funding model for building campus buildings. This type of funding has been successful at other universities in Illinois and across the country. 

University Housing derives revenue exclusively through room and board paid by residents of the residence halls and apartments. No state funds or tuition dollars are utilized in housing operations, including building new residence halls. 

Shaffer said he is optimistic about the future of on-campus housing on the Carbondale campus. 

“We are looking forward to creating new housing on campus that will meet the needs of today’s student,” he said. “The towers have housed tens of thousands of students over the past 50 years, but it’s time to look to the future.” 

(For more information: Contact Crystal Bouhl, assistant director of University Housing – Marketing, at 618/453-2301.)