St. Mathews medical school is back.
Repairs on its Residence Hall finished Friday and administrators will open a new veterinary school in September, boosting enrolment to the long-sought 500 students.
‘We’re going to open on Wednesday, 4 May and we’ll be the same size, with, typically, for the May semester, about 70 to 90 new students,’ said Averitt Bryce, university coordinator.
After two semesters at temporary quarters in the frigid wintertime climate of Maine, a move forced on the school by Ivan, staff, administrators, rebuilt halls and classrooms and, most of all, students, have returned.
In September, the university suffered major damage to its Safehaven classroom and administration building, and had significant problems with 100 of its 115 rooms in the West Bay Road Residence Hall.
Repairs are virtually complete, Mr. Bryce said, and equipment moved from the temporary Maine campus in South Portland.
‘We had to decide on a semester basis when to move back,’ he said.
‘In December we decided it was too early because (construction) materials hadn’t started flowing . . . so we decided for May,’ he said.
Student housing could still prove difficult, although Mr. Bryce was optimistic places would be found.
About 100 students live in the Residence Halls, he said, which are only for first-years. ‘The others are absorbed into the community.
‘A number of hotels, for example, have offered 20 rooms, some have offered 30 rooms, but that’s if you want to pay those rates,’ he said, estimating hotel costs at between $2,000 and $3,000 for a semester.
‘We have put out notices, though, and a lot of people know we need accommodation. People rent rooms all over the island.’
Prior to Ivan, St. Mathews employed 18 staff. Mr. Bryce said all would be rehired.
‘After Ivan, a lot of staff were laid off, but were told they could come back. We’ll bring 18 people on, although I don’t know if they will be the same 18.’
Most recently, he said, he has hired an executive assistant and three clerical staff.
‘We’ll have a maintenance individual, a housekeeper at the Residence Hall, another maintenance person over there, and someone that does visas and immigration, a hugely important job.’
The costs of moving, Mr. Bryce said, were difficult to estimate.
‘I couldn’t even guess. We rented a (Maine) building for the students at $1.2 million per semester, and academic space at half that. A lot of equipment had to be moved.
‘One of our board members is from Harvard and she said we should write a paper on it.’
St. Mathews evacuated its students and staff immediately before and after Ivan.
‘We absorbed most of the cost of going (to Maine). We’ll ask (students) to absorb the costs of coming back.’
Neither September’s storm-induced move to Maine, nor this move back, is the first time St. Mathews has relocated.
‘We were in Belize four years or five years ago,’ Mr Bryce said, ‘and we had to move a couple of times there. We’ve had plenty of practice.’