Staff thoughts on Student center

Speculation concerning the development of a student center had been circulating through Eastern University for years. However, with the debut of the center’s floor plans last fall, speculation turned into excitement. The university’s new student center, planned to be built where the softball field currently stands, is set to feature a new dining commons, lounge areas for students and new offices to replace the existing ones in Walton.

In an interview with Vice President for Student Development Bettie Ann Brigham last fall, she specified that “these sort of things are planned six to eight years in advance.” Years later through donations and funding, the student center was set to break ground in April 2012.

Ground-breaking was then pushed back to the start of this fall semester and unfortunately, due to lack of necessary “gifts,” construction was halted indefinitely. “We understand the limitations on budgets at this time. We are hopeful that the funds can be secured and the facility be built at some point in the future,” says Brigham.

From a financial standpoint, James Rogers, Vice President of Planned Giving at the university, says “Of course, all this costs money, no easy resource to secure in a time of general economic hesitation. Still, we’re encouraged by our initial fundraising efforts, the resources from which will be augmented with the net proceeds from the sale of the Palmer Theological Seminary property in Wynnewood.” When asked about his thoughts on the delayed ground-breaking, Rogers says, “I’m quick to note that things of such substantive value for current and future Eastern students are well worth the considerable planning and execution to turn the ideas into reality”.

Fortunately, a student center is not completely necessary to the university at this time. “With the student numbers currently remaining fairly static, Walton Hall, which we all love in many ways, will be able to meet our needs for a few more years,” Says Brigham.

Even with the uncertain date for beginning construction of the student center, other Eastern faculty and staff members are still excited for what is to come. “It will provide a gathering place for students and for faculty and staff which will enhance the sense of community on campus. The new student center represents an exciting time of growth for Eastern,” says Serena Livingston, Development Services Information Manager to the university. Livingston is also looking forward to the center’s “green roof”, which she feels will be “architecturally interesting” and “environmentally friendly.”

The date for ground breaking for the student center remains unknown at this time. That lack of knowledge does nothing to deter Eastern faculty and staff’s anticipations and thoughts about what a wonderful center it will be, in its time.

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