LSC expansion, new health center on list of possible updates to university facilities
Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 00:07
Several possible updates to campus facilities at Sam Houston State University are in the pre-planning stage, according to university officials who met with students last week.
Associate Vice President of Student Services Keith Jenkins told members of the Student Government Association that potential updates to campus include an expansion of the Lowman Student Center, a new Health Center and updates to Pritchett Field and the University Camp.
Jenkins told SGA that with the demolition of Smith-Kirkley the pre-planning to expand the LSC is in the works to address the growth of the student body.
"Right now everyone knows that if you’re a student organization and you’re trying to get space in the LSC, it’s at a premium," Jenkins said. "I would say that they turn down 35 percent of student requests for rooms."
He added that over the years, students have expressed interest in having carpeting in the LSC Ballroom, a bowling alley and an eating area in the LSC.
The expansion of the LSC will be up for a vote in October. In the meantime, Jenkins said the university is going through what he called a "pre-planning" phase to meet with different departments on campus to get input about the expansion. However, Jenkins had concern about the time limit given for planning. He said that the university is being given three to six weeks of time for pre-planning for what would normally take three to six months.
Other concerns were with the cost of the expansion. Jenkins said the estimated cost would be around $30 million, a price that might be difficult to cover.
"The state legislature sets the cap [for the student center fee] at 100 dollars," he said. "Our fee is at 60 dollars right now. If the students vote to go to the cap, it only gets us half way there."
With the challenges of the cost, he said planning could include contributions to cover the cost from donors and other departments involved in the expansion.
Next, Jenkins discussed another item going on the student referendum in October. Another potential plan for university expansion is a new student health center. Originally, the plan was to use the existing site to expand the health center, but with King Hall also on the list of buildings to be demolished, Jenkins said it was a "strong possibility" that the new facility could be built on that site.
Jenkins added that there were many female care issues that the university is not equipped to handle in the current health center and hopes the new center will help that.
Jenkins said all research and student input have been gathered for the student health center and graphic renditions of what the building may look like will be available to students by August 22.
SGA Treasurer Jimmy Williams expressed concern over congested parking around the areas of planned construction. While Jenkins could not give a definite answer, he said some ideas in discussions of the LSC expansion were to use the hilly topography of campus to build parking underneath the building to address parking issues, similar to the parking at Sam Houston Village.
"There is no finality to any of these ideas," Jenkins said. "These are just new ideas off the press."
Other proposed plans Jenkins discussed were of a new special event center near the coliseum to house the alumni center, parts of the academic advisement center and a new ballroom.
While the special event center would have its advantages, Jenkins noted that the university would plan to use soft money such as outside contributions and grants, not student fee money, to fund the building on the new facility. As a result, he said the access of the building to students would be more limited.
Other potential construction plans include a new dining facility and residence hall on the south side of campus with new property purchased by the university.
Then, Jenkins updated SGA on other smaller-scale updates to campus facilities. He noted that the university is installing artificial grass on Pritchett Field to combat previous problems with last year’s drought that caused an "unplayable" field.
The field, which costs around $1.1 million, will accommodate club sports, intramural teams and intercollegiate soccer teams. He said it will be completed by September 1.