WATERLOO, Iowa --- Enrollment at Allen College has grown exponentially in recent years, and now the campus will expand to accommodate the additional students.

The school and hospital foundations have quietly been raising money for a third academic building, which will be constructed between the existing structures --- Barrett Forum and Gerard Hall.

"Those buildings were built to accommodate a maximum of 350 students, and as of this semester we have 509 students," said Jerry Durham, the college chancellor.

To accommodate the growing number of students the college has hired new faculty and staff who have had to turn common student areas and classrooms into office space. The new 19,500-square-foot building will include two 75-seat lecture halls, two 35-seat classrooms and 17 new offices. Durham believes this building will allow enrollment to grow to at least 600 students, possibly more as some programs are taught online.

They will break ground on the $5.5 million building this spring. Durham said they have about $3.3 million pledged, with $3 million in hand. The hospital foundation has offered the school a short-term loan for the remaining money so the project can be started in May. The building, which has yet to be named, is expected to be ready for students in fall 2012.

Durham said they are not seeking a "green" building certification but they will employ "green" building methods wherever it is possible and cost-effective.

Lisa Hayes, a senior in the baccalaureate of science in nursing program, will graduate before the new building opens, but she has watched the school grow and knows the expansion is needed.

"Just since I have been here you can see the increase in class size. They are also adding a ton of programs," Hayes said, adding the additional common space is needed as well. "This area is used for everything. Some people come here to study. Some take a break from class and socialize. Some are eating. Those don't all gel together if you are trying to study and you want it more quiet. And sometimes there just isn't any room."

The new building, which will adjoin the existing buildings on either side, will have several options for students looking to take a break between classes.

"I won't get to enjoy the new building, but it is nice to see the campus grow and change," said ShanQuiesha Robinson, a senior in the baccalaureate of science in nursing program. "And, if I decide to come back to get my master's I will get to use it then."

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