Perkinston Dorms Go From "Old School" To "21st Century"

Dorm life at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is about to go from "old school" to "21st century." On Wednesday officials broke ground on a new women's dormitory.

J.E. Bryan Hall is the Perkinston campus's first new dorm in 17 years. Right now some of Perks' female students stay in Harrison Hall which was built back in the 1930s. But when Bryan Hall opens in the fall of 2006, students will enjoy suites with bathrooms, a laundry room and a study area.

Sophomore Jennifer Ghere says it was an honor to help break ground on her college's newest women's dormitory. She believes the dorm will attract more students to the Perkinston campus.

"Just because there hasn't been a new building on this campus in so long and people would see that more money is coming into the college and it's a better place to be."

Making Perkinston a better place is also about improving old buildings. This summer the Student Center is getting new flooring. Other renovations are taking place in the cafeteria and in some classrooms.

"It makes good sense," said college president Willis Lott. "If you look at homes or any buildings, generally about every 25 years you have to renovate them and do some work to them. We try to do about 4 percent of our facilities a year in renovating, roofing or whatever."

The master plan mapped out by the college includes much more than one new dormitory. The legislature did not pass the bond for $42 million to fund campus improvements. School officials say that's made reaching their goals more difficult, but the job must be done.

"We've had 11 consecutive semesters of enrollment growth at the community college," said Lott. "That growth is going to continue. We've got to prepare our facilities, our campuses and our centers for that growth as it continues so that we can meet the educational needs of our local taxpayers in the four counties that we serve."

State bonds collected over the past four yeas are paying for the construction of the $3.5 million dormitory. Stone County is pitching in $1.3 million for furniture, as well as a new road and parking lot.

The new dormitory is named in honor of long time Stone County businessman James Bryan Jr. who spent 26 years on the college's board of trustees.