Things will look a lot different for residents of Pritchard Hall come fall semester 2009, when it transitions to a co-ed residence hall.

Pritchard is currently the largest all-male residence hall on the East Coast, housing 1,016 men for the 2008-09 academic year. Since opening in 1967, it has housed more than 40,000 men during their time in residence on Virginia Tech’s campus.

The decision to open the building to female students was based on an increasing demand for co-ed housing and the changing gender balance of the Virginia Tech campus. The change is due to the higher number of females in the general population electing to attend college, the increasing popularity of Virginia Tech among female students, and the fact that more women are choosing to remain on campus after their first year.

Starting next fall, Pritchard will house a mix of 41 percent females and 59 percent males. This reflects the gender balance of the student population on campus, which was 58.4 percent male and 41.6 percent female for 2008-09, and is similar to the mix in other co-ed halls on the Virginia Tech campus. Housing and Dining Services, a department within the Division of Student Affairs, manages residential room assignments on campus and will play a crucial role in implementing this change.

"We are quite excited about finally being able to make Pritchard a co-educational facility,” said Ken Belcher, associate director for occupancy management. “We have been watching our numbers for several years to achieve the change. With the temporary closing of East Ambler Johnston for renovation, the opening of New Hall West in the fall, and our overall gender balance, this is the time to make the change. We know it will concern some of our former residents to see Pritchard's occupancy changed; however, we vetted our plan with the Student Advisory Committee, and think this is the right time."

Pritchard’s co-ed status will allow a new assignment strategy to enhance students’ residential experience. Assignments will concentrate students with the same colleges and majors in the same areas of the residence hall. It will not be exclusive to any major and will not guarantee a roommate of the same major, but will encourage interaction with classmates while still allowing students to make connections with residents outside of their area of study. It will be less formal than the major-based theme housing programs, such as the Biological and Life Sciences Learning Community.

"The housing and residence life staff sees a number of positive outcomes from this change," said Erin Foote, assignments manager.

For now, the building will be primarily assigned to freshmen. The housing department anticipates that a larger number of students will request to return to Pritchard after it is converted. Current plans have the first floor remaining all-male and the seventh changing to all-female. The remaining floors in the seven-floor building will be mixed by wing.

To prepare for the change, Pritchard has undergone numerous enhancements. Most of the bathrooms have been renovated recently, and the remaining are planned be completed this summer. Replacing or refinishing of the student room doors in Pritchard was accomplished a few years ago. Although funds are even tighter than usual, a portion is being allocated for projects such as replacing furniture and painting.

The change may have a positive impact on Pritchard’s reputation. “Pritchard has a rich history and reputation which is based on stories, both real and urban legend,” Belcher said. “That is not the Pritchard of today, and it is definitely not going to be the Pritchard of tomorrow. This is a new page in the history of Pritchard Hall. Our goal is to model the occupancy and staffing of Pritchard to mimic that of Ambler Johnston Hall.”

More than 9,100 students live on Virginia Tech’s campus. First-year students are required to live on campus and upperclassmen can request to remain on campus through the housing application process held each January. Learn more about Housing and Residence Life.

Housing and Dining Services is a department within the Division of Student Affairs. The Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech encompasses departments dedicated to providing a rich co-curricular experience and essential student services. Virtually every aspect of a student's life outside the classroom is represented through the division's departments.