Issues of Interest Discussed at Chat With the Chancellor

Last week’s Chat with the Chancellor, held in the lobby of Buchanan Hall, brought up issues of concern to students at WCU.

One major topic of discussion was the contruction projects that are soon to be underway. Construction bids on three much anticipated projects on campus, funded in part by the $98.4 million for Western coming out of the $3.1 billion state higher education bond passed in November, are slated for the coming months. These projects include the fine and performing arts center, the regional workforce development center and the second phase of the University Center expansion.

The fine and performing arts center, whose bid will go out in March or April, will eventually cover 121,000 square feet and house a 1,000-seat performance hall. The $28 million center will also include classrooms, studios and galleries. It is expected to be completed by the spring of 2003.

The 28,000 square foot regional workforce development center, or “high tech building” will feature media production facilities with digital sound and video recording capabilities, applied engineering facilities including lasers and focused on technology-based manufacturing, and a center for professional selling. The bid on the $8 million center is scheduled for release on February 28.

The bid on the second phase of the University Center expansion will go out in mid-March. The ground floor of the current UC will be entirely devoted to a food court area in the new plans. New franchises will added, including a Sbarro’s. The game room will be moved to the UC2, which will be added to the rear of the current UC. Included in the UC expansion program will be a new mailbox center, a movie theater for students, featuring surround sound; more space for student organizations, a retail shopping area, and a multicultural center. The 31,000 square foot building, funded through $6.5 million in student fees, is targeted for completion by spring of 2002.

When asked about parking problems associated with construction, Bardo commented that a parking engineer would be hired to examine the whole approach to parking, in order to maximize parking efficiency.

“There is plenty of parking spaces on campus, but there are many out by Ramsey and the field house where no one really wants to park,” Bardo said.

Bardo added that there would be a $2 increase in parking fees for next semester.

Other topics of discussion:

  • Construction of a new 300 bed, suite-style residence hall to begin in January 2002. The site planned for the hall is on Dicks Gap Road, near the Alumni House.

  • Proposed expansion of Graham infirmary by over 50 percent to provide a 50-bed “living, learning” center. The idea is for students to be housed in the building to “bring the classroom and the real world closer together for students with a particular set of interests,” Bardo said.

  • Improvements to the track and soccer field, as well as to the tennis courts, and the addition of a 1,200 seat stadium.

  • Renovation of Bird building, which would become a new, more centralized health center that would also house the counseling center now at Scott. The move would free up more residential space in Scott Hall.

  • A proposal for “Greek Row”: congregate housing especially for members of Greek organizations.

  • Scholarships for Marching Band students.