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'It kind of blew me away': University of Lynchburg president talks deal to use Liberty's building

More than 200 students will live at old hotel while new dorm is completed

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The University of Lynchburg and Liberty University are working together to make sure more than 200 Lynchburg students have a home to start the semester.

Lynchburg's students will temporarily live in Liberty University's former residential annex, which was once a hotel, while a new dorm on campus is completed. The building is located about 3 miles from the University of Lynchburg's campus.

The new residential hall was on track to be finished by the start of the school year, but a series of severe thunderstorms last month delayed construction.

"Our hope is that it's a short-term solution, but ultimately we do not want our students to move into a building that does not exceed our expectations," said University of Lynchburg Dean of Students Kristen Cooper.

University of Lynchburg President Kenneth Garren texted Liberty Univerity President Jerry Falwell Jr. earlier in the year about the possibility of using the annex as a backup plan for students.

"He texted back one word: 'Absolutely.' A couple seconds later came another word: 'Free,'" said Garren. "It kind of blew me away for somebody to offer you something for free, but I think that's part of the heritage that comes from our environment."

Cooper developed the plan for the temporary housing. She says the university will make an effort to keep students at the annex connected to the campus.

"We are insuring that they have student services there in regards to meals," Cooper said. "There will also be a shuttle service that will go back and forth from campus to the off-campus facility."

Garren says he's happy the university found a solution while the new residential hall is built and perfected.

"This is a gift for our students," Garren said. "The students are what's important here. It's not the president, it's the students."

The university estimates the new residential hall could open as soon as mid-September.


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