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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
You'll notice something shiny and new near the heart of Southeastern's campus this fall. Phase-one construction of the new War Memorial Student Union addition is on track to be completed in December, giving students access to nearly 90,000 square feet of modern amenities and services by the start of the spring 2014 semester.
Students soon will be able to enjoy all the new addition has to offer: a game room, ballroom, food court and fresh dining facility, among other features. The first-floor food court will feature new retail dining locations such as Panda Express and Mooyah, as well as Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell and a Grab N Go convenience store.
Phase-one construction of the new student union addition is nearing completion.
The union renovation and expansion project, which began in early 2012, is being completed in three phases with an expected final completion date later next year. After phase one is completed, phase two – which includes renovations to the current union mall area as well as the adjoining areas – will begin. This area will be the future home of the new University Bookstore, conference rooms, classrooms and offices. Finally, phase three will bring the renovation of the current union annex, where the existing bookstore is located, to make room for a new Center for Student Excellence, University Counseling Center and University Health Center.
According to Ken Howe, director of Facility Planning at Southeastern, the project is being completed in phases so that the university can maintain services to students throughout the construction process.
"We are proud that no services have been lost during this process," said Howe.
The $32 million project is being funded primarily through a self-assessed student fee and revenues obtained from commercial providers that occupy the space in the union. Howe credits students, particularly the Student Government Association's efforts to encourage support of the project in the 2006-2007 academic year, as being integral to getting the project started.
"When completed in late 2014, the new union will serve as one place where students can go for all their needs – nutrition, advising, textbooks and more. It really is by the students, for the students," said Howe.
While offices previously located in the union have been temporarily relocated, even those affected by construction look forward to the final result.
"The new union will enhance Southeastern student's collegiate experience by bringing student services and programs together in one place," said Cherie Thriffiley, Office for Student Engagement director, whose office moved to Mims Hall during construction.
Holly and Smith of Hammond and WTW of Pittsburgh, Pa. served as architects, while Lincoln Builders of Baton Rouge is the contractor overseeing construction of the project.