The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Coppin State University is planning to construct an eight-story residence hall to build the infrastructure necessary to implement an on-campus residency requirement for freshman and sophomore students.

The new 109,049-square-foot residence hall will add 350 beds to the university, increasing the total to roughly 1,000 overall. According to a request for proposal, the university is budgeting up to $40 million for the project.

Officials say they plan to start construction on the new dorm in 2024.

Flossie M. Dedmond Residence Hall

Coppin State University’s undergraduate enrollment has declined by 46% since 2010, and its retention rate lags behind other local HBCUs. President Anthony Jenkins told the Baltimore Business Journal that he hopes that the new dorm can help boost retention.

“This new residential facility is not focused on the growth, but more so on retention, which has a direct impact on the growth of the institution,” Jenkins said. “Universities who house more students on campus have higher retention rates, higher graduation rates, higher completion rates, and greater college satisfaction.”

“Coppin doesn’t have an enrollment problem, we have a problem with retention,” Jenkins added.

The university’s lack of housing has an impact on enrollment as well as retention.

According to the Baltimore Business Journal, Coppin State lost 600 prospective students from 2015 to 2020 to other universities in part because the school did not have enough on-campus housing to accommodate students, Jenkins said. The school got the information based on students who were accepted to Coppin but declined to attend the school after they were notified there was no bed space, he added.

Jenkins also said that Coppin’s retention issues are in part caused by the university serving a poorer student body. At Coppin, 71% of students in 2021 were eligible for Pell grants, compared to students at Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where only 57% were eligible. Coppin is one of the most affordable University System of Maryland institutions with an average annual cost of $10,105.

“When our students are faced with economic challenges and they have to decide between going to work or going from being a part-time to the full-time student or stopping out, they have to go work,” Jenkins said.

As for when the requirement for all freshman and sophomore students to live on campus will be put in place, Coppin spokeswoman Robyne McCullough said that the school does not have a firm timeline as of now but it’d likely be after the new dormitory is built.