A new $30-40 million state-of-the-art University Center [UC] is in the process of being planned by UM administrators and students to be funded through upcoming fundraising efforts, as part of President Donna E. Shalala’s Capital Campaign.
“We as an institution need to bring the UC into the 21st century,” Richard Walker, director of the UC and Student Life, said. “We are looking to expand out from our current location and to move things around.”
Dan Westbrook, associate director for the UC, says that those who use the UC on a daily basis have needed a new building for years.
“Our building is old, and much of its design and functionality were originally matched to the needs of the 1960s,” Westbrook said. “Over the years, many students and administrators have been very creative in modifying old spaces to better serve the students of the ’80s, ’90s and today, but there is a limit to what can be done.”
“Nothing can alter the fact that the air conditioning systems, wiring and plumbing, and other infrastructure components in the UC are at or beyond their expected lifetimes,” Westbrook said.
According to Walker, Tulane University has just completed a $37 million renovation on their UC.
As for the planning of the renovation, UM is working with the firm Brailsford and Dunlavey. The same firm helped in the planning of the Wellness Center, which cost an estimated $13.5 million.
Recently, the firm has worked with several focus groups on campus including commuter students, resident students, faculty, UC staff and employees, in order to determine specific renovations.
Some suggestions for additions to the UC include retail stores, hair salons, movie theaters, a bowling alley and restaurants.
“All of us are very anxious to see what the priorities of our patrons actually are,” Westbrook said. “We look forward to working with students, staff, faculty and alumni in making sure the UC remains a key provider of services and programs for the University of Miami.”
The results of the focus group studies will be available in May.
The UC renovation is just one of several other construction projects recently taken on by the University.
“Student life is like a wheel with three components, the Wellness Center, the Convocation Center and the UC,” Walker said. “We want the UC to be as nice as the others in order to complete the wheel.”
Many students are looking forward to the renovations.
“The UC is one of the most student-oriented buildings I’ve seen on college campuses,” Oscar De La Pena, senior, said. “I’m looking forward to the renovations.”
“The improvements will be beneficial to the entire University community,” Ricky Rodriguez, freshman, said.
However, not all students agree with all of the suggestions.
“I wouldn’t want a hair salon, unless haircuts were included in my tuition,” Christina Coleman, freshman, said.
Currently, a survey has been developed to find out which improvements or changes the UM community would like to see made to the UC.
Students who fill out the survey will be included in a drawing to win either a $50 Dining Dollar certificate or a $50 Bookstore gift certificate.
The deadline to complete the UC renovations survey is today at 5 p.m.
To complete the student survey, go to www.facilityplanners.com/survey/miami/student. To complete the staff and faculty survey, go to www.facilityplanners.com/survey/miami/faculty.
Leigha Taber can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org