Last Thursday (April 12th, 2018), ten integral individuals, who have been crucial to the journey for the success for the Fitness Center expansion, hoisted their shovels and officially breached the ground - marking the beginning of construction that is significant for Missouri S&T and the wellbeing of the student body. Those who spoke at the ceremony included: Ted Ruth, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services; Dr. David Westenberg, Faculty Athletics Representative; Scottie Thomas, Student Body President; and Madison Moore, Student Body President-Elect. Some notable people in attendance included the President of the University of Missouri System, Mui Y. Choi, and the appointed contractor, DeWitt & Associates, is based out of Springfield, Missouri. To say the least, the sheer magnitude of people in attendance at the ceremony speaks volumes of what this expansion will mean for the university.
The expansion will have many positive effects on the University as Dr. Westenberg emphasized. Dr Westenberg noted that prioritizing health and wellness on campus not only aids academic performance, but also prepares students with habits that will provide them with a better future. In addition to providing a healthy future for students, Vice Chancellor Ruth also believes that the expansion and update of the Fitness Center will be a draw for future students and that it will help to increase our enrollment.
It goes without saying that there is much excitement for the vibrant facility. The expansion has been one of the more ambitious tasks taken on by Student Council thus far in the history of the University. The multi-million dollar expansion will be funded solely by the students through their “Student Activities Fee” that is already in place and will not fluctuate. The expansion is set to be completed in April of 2019, but the exact date will depend on the weather since construction activities, such as pouring concrete, cannot be completed when the weather is below certain temperatures. Consequently, concerns have been raised by students on a number of things and how the construction will impact their use of and access to of the facility, the parking lot, and other capital planning and modifications to campus.
One of the concerns brought to my attention by numerous students was pertaining to where and when students will be able to workout during this transition time. Chancellor Maples stated that “it will in part depend on weather and when people are going to be able to actually get the work done...We will do everything we can possibly do to not interrupt the ability of students to workout and use the center.” When the idea of having access to the construction progress and closure times located somewhere online was proposed, Chancellor Maples was instantly an advocate for the idea and wants the information to be “easy to find.” It is also important to note that the Fitness Center construction will not interfere with the Career Fair in the Fall, but the replacement of the floor in the varsity basketball gym may result in some rearranging of the layout of the event.
Another concern brought to my attention was the dire state of the fitness center parking lot and whether that would be replaced in conjunction with the fitness center expansion. The parking lot corresponding to the Fitness Center will not be replaced since the expansion came from the Student Activities Fee and parking lot operations are paid for by those who purchase parking passes for on campus parking; however, the Parking Lot Operations are aware of the severely deep pot-holes located in the parking lot and have it on their to-do list for repairing.
There have been other concerns pertaining to capital planning, and they have been heard. In the next several years, you can expect to see some major capital modifications on campus. The curators approved a five year plan that pertains to completing updates for Schrenk, research facilities, and in the Curtis Laws Wilson Library. Schrenk has already had updates completed on the first and second floors of the west wing, but there are many more changes to come. The entire east wing is to be demolished and reconstructed. Updates in the Library are also in works, along with operational changes that will include 24 hour access. Missouri S&T wants to stay competitive and most importantly, provide students with the quality that they deserve.
Ultimately, I cannot say that I am alone in my excitement for the prospective changes to be implemented during my education at S&T.
PHOTO CRED: Andrew Sheeley, Phelps County Focus