New University Center Gains Approval: Kenneth Long Announces Board of Governors’ Decision

Photo Credit / Charlese Freeman

Charlese Freeman

Student Life Editor

Kenneth Long, vice president of finances, announced that the board of governors approved the university’s plans to tear down its Keystone Room at last Thursday’s council of trustee’s meeting.

The council of trustees gathered for its monthly meeting. The vision for the new University Center and Keystone Room project is still in progress after being announced back in 2010.

Long explained, now that the final parts of the project have been approved, the university can move forward with the remodeling of the University Center and removing the Keystone Room.

He explained that the current Keystone Room, which sits adjacent to the University Center, will be torn down and used as the location for the new university center. The area where the current university center sits will be space for students to lounge and enjoy free time. Long explained that the open space will be similar to how students use the quad during the warmer seasons.

“[The Keystone Room] it’s replacing the current student union building with a new student union with more amenities. It has a small movie theater, a new book store, an art gallery, and an enhanced food court,” said Long

The vacant Keystone Room once housed the Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management department, but now sits empty in the center of campus.

Long explained, in mid-February, the university received word that it was able to proceed with the process. The park-like area will be an extension of the quad. The open space in the will be for outdoor concerts as well as speakers.

The new university center project will allow for 168,000 square foot of space for student enjoyment.

“We finally got all the other approval processes out of the way, now we’ll be circulating that document. That will allow us to move into the construction phase of the project, not necessarily build the building, but sending the project out to bid,” said Long.  “We can send those documents to contractors for bidding.”

Long also mentioned at the meeting that all student services and faculties such as testing center, counseling, disability services that are currently offered being comprised into one place will be moved to the lower-level of Sycamore suits.

Long said that the university moving and combining services to create will create more focus and order back on campus. He mentioned the Flagler- Metzgar Center, which is used for counseling services, as being another building that is outdated on campus.   

The university project will cost $72 million, with $36 million coming from state funding, $30 million coming from the financed student union fee.

Current ESU juniors and seniors will see the footprints of the new university center Long said, but the project will not be complete while they attend the University.

Students share their thoughts on the delayed renovations of the university center:

“I would love to see anything that boasts community on campus. I feel like everyone feels divided; there’s not really a place where people can congregate. A place that unifies and includes people would be really great. A movie theater would be awesome because they bring people together. A larger space would be really great,” said ESU senior, Danielle Martin.

A number of other announces where made at the meeting. President Welsh briefly spoke about the approval the university’s second doctorate degree.

The additional degree program, as well as the new remodeling efforts, may help improve the university’s enrollment and retention rates.

The current services in the university center will be in the new building. The building will also have additions such as the dean of students’ office, the office of multicultural affairs, which currently has its own building, the international students programs, WESS radio station, and most of the student clubs and organizations.

The predicted completion time for the new university center is sometime in 2021, possibly sooner. Students will begin to see the construction of the new building soon.

The new university center serves as an additional element of the university’s rebranding project. The university hopes the renovations will please current students and attract and keep future students.

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