Onward for Oak Hills: New residence hall to be completed in early January

Monday, November 07, 2016

By Maggi Stivers (Published in the Bemidji Pioneer November 5, 2016)

When students at Oak Hills Christian College return back to campus after Christmas break, they will have somewhere new to call home.

The new Robert H. Thompson Memorial Residence Hall, or Thompson Hall for short, will be completed in early January.

The $4.3 million residence hall includes space for 88 students to sleep and study. The current enrollment at Oak Hills is 125 students.

“We have raised almost $3.3 million, so we have just about a million left to go,” said Joan Berntson, vice president for advancement at Oak Hills Christian College.

Bernston and Steve Hostetter, president of Oak Hills, lead a tour of the nearly completed residence hall Friday morning. Construction began this past spring.

“This summer, the students weren’t here but staff was here. We would watch each step of the progress,” said Berntson, “As the students have come back this fall, the sense of excitement is just really growing as they are having a chance to anticipate moving in.”

The two-story, 23,000 square-foot building has a main lounge winged by smaller lounges, four community kitchenettes and laundry rooms. It has 46 bedrooms each with its own bathroom.

As part of the plan, the two current dorms will be demolished.

“The one farthest west is ready, all the usable things have been taken out of it. The other one is in use right now, so probably next summer before that will come down,” said Berntson.

The new residence hall should allow students to focus more on their studies, officials said.

“The old dorms really had some difficulty in terms of heating and cooling. It wasn’t handicap accessible. We felt like our students were more focused on their living environment, which was negative and now they won't have to think about that,” Berntson said.