Old Dominion University in Norfolk and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, are also expected to be reclassified next month by the Carnegie Foundation as "primarily residential." As a result, all 15 of Virginia's four-year public institutions will be considered either primarily residential or highly residential.
Old Dominion President John Broderick said that not only has on-campus housing grown significantly, but the university has partnered with private entities to build housing on the outskirts of campus that contributes to the campus setting.
"I think any university will tell its vibrancy is enhanced by having a cadre of students who live and study on campus," Broderick said.
The Carnegie Foundation issues the classifications every five years. Spokeswoman Gay Clyburn cautioned the reclassifications won't be finished until next month.
Typically universities eagerly anticipate the foundation's classifications that define universities as "research institutions" or liberal arts schools. She said it's somewhat unusual for a school to make hay over its classification as a residential campus.
For George Mason, though, shedding the commuter school image is important.
"When people perceive a college to be a commuter campus, they perceive there are not opportunities to get involved," Hurley said. "It takes time to change those perceptions, but those perceptions are shifting more rapidly because of the changes we're making."
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