Lon Morris Adds Beds For Students
By KELLY GOOCH
JACKSONVILLE -- Although inclement weather had delayed construction at the Cooper House at Lon Morris College, a dedication ceremony and tours marked the official opening of the duplex-style residential housing unit on Wednesday.
The Cooper House, at 600 College Ave., adjacent to the chapel, is two stories and can house up to 32 students.
In the facility, each student has a semi-private bedroom and shares a lobby space with other students.
"I think, for the college, it's just another example of how we're trying to build a community of students who are mature socially, academically and spiritually," said Dr. Miles McCall, LMC president.
The Cooper House is named after Charles Cooper, a 1953 Lon Morris graduate who donated the $750,000 needed to build it.
McCall described Cooper as a "private person" and "humble man."
"He cares about kids," McCall said. "He understands what Lon Morris can do for a person because it did it for him."
Jacksonville Mayor Robert Haberle and Martha Squibb, on behalf of the LMC Board of Trustees, also commended Cooper.
"The generosity that you've expressed is so deeply appreciated by everyone here," Haberle told the building's namesake.
Ms. Squibb agreed.
"It says so much for you to want to share with us what it took your whole life to accumulate …," she said to Cooper. "Hopefully, this is the beginning of other residential halls like this."
McCall said no matter what the future brings, the college will always think of the duplex-style of residential living as "a Cooper House."
Currently, 16 students reside in the Cooper House.
LMC Housing Coordinator Tameeka Mitchell said students who live in the facility are chosen based on an array of factors, including grade-point average, class attendance and financial status.
Residential adviser Jonathan Smith was one student who was selected.
"It's amazing. It's almost like being in an apartment," he said. "We get a real taste of what it's like living by ourselves."
As the Cooper House officially opens, Lon Morris also is constructing a living option that has been referred to as the Lodge.
McCall said the Lodge will be different than the Cooper House in that its rooms will open up to the outside like a hotel. It is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in August.
Even with the Lodge and Cooper House, McCall said Lon Morris still is about 300 beds short of what it needs.
He said students still are staying in hotel rooms -- an alternative housing option offered by the school.
Student enrollment at the beginning of the fall was 830, McCall said. The school's goal is to grow and maintain 1,000 students.