An artist's drawing depicts the future female students' residence which St. Joseph's College is building on the University of Alberta campus.

An artist's drawing depicts the future female students' residence which St. Joseph's College is building on the University of Alberta campus.

February 3, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta is building a $35-million women's residence to house female students who want to live in a unisex environment on campus.

The new residence will be built just south of the college, adjacent to the men's residence, and will host 282 female residents. It's expected to welcome students in September 2015.

Currently, St. Joseph's College offers housing to 64 male students in an all-male residence, and 14 women in a separate residence at HUB Mall.

"That's why we decided to build a larger residence," explains Marc Neal, chief administrative officer. "We don't want the St. Joe's community to be a split community."

Neal thinks a new residence will increase enrollment to some of the college's programs and provide a solution for female students who want to live in a women's residence.

Since 2006 the college has been leasing a section of HUB Mall to house its female residents. "Our current situation with the university actually costs us money," Neal observed. "So this new residence would work out better for us, better accommodations."

The residence, a seven-storey building, will have 24 single-bed suites, 45 double bedroom suites and 39 four-bedroom units, all of which have been set up like apartments.

"Every suite has a kitchen in it," explained Neal. "I think it's going to be a very beautiful looking building."

The main floor will be mainly a large open area with one multi-purpose room, a chapel and a small kitchen for events that can be hosted in the main lobby. "We are still working out the details of how that's going to look but I think we are very close now."

The residence will break even in the short term, but Neal expects it to start generating revenue within five years.

While the college is the sole funder of the residence, the University of Alberta's Facilities and Operations has been contracted to manage the project.

Jessica McGrath, an 18-year-old first-year nursing student and leader of the social committee at Kateri House, the current women's residence, is happy about the project.

"The boys at St. Joe's (male residence) have so much fun with the larger group, and I think it'll be really cool to have more girls involved in Kateri," she said.

A LITTLE FAMILY

"At Kateri, we are like a little family because we are only 14 of us. It'll be cool to have this type of atmosphere on a bigger scale. It's kind of expanding the family because we are very close living together and all sharing the same faith."

McGrath, who hails from Bonnyville, ended up at Kateri on the recommendation of her sister, who spent the last two years as a resident.

"I was so scared to leave a small town and come to a big city but with Kateri and Joe's, it was such an easy transition," she said.

St. Joseph's College has been an affiliated Catholic college with the University of Alberta since 1926. It is administered by the Basilian Fathers.