Campus Improvements Under Way
A number of major improvement projects ranging from facility upgrades to landscaping enhancements are under way or were recently completed on the Henderson State University campus.
Renovations have begun inside the Garrison Student Activities Center. The improvements include two new popular restaurants, along with a fresh new look for the Reddie Bookstore. The hallways on both levels of the two-story facility will be modernized with new flooring and paint, and the Day Gym will be transformed into a modern conference center.
The south end of the Garrison Center now includes a Starbucks and also is being prepared to accommodate a new full-service Chick-Fil-A later this fall. A “Grillworks” will offer other fast food options such as burgers and Philly sandwiches.
In all, 3,200 square feet has been renovated for the restaurants, said Bobby Jones, vice president for finance and administration. The interiors will follow a master color scheme to match other areas of the Garrison Center.
The Reddie Bookstore has undergone a complete interior makeover and features an open ceiling and a new floor plan. Text books are kept in a separate room which opens up additional space on the sales floor to accommodate health and beauty supplies, grocery items and a larger selection of clothing. An electronics section offering cell phone and other electronics repairs is planned.
Garrison Center entry areas, corridors and seating areas will all see new paint to match the master scheme, and some remodeling will take place.
The conversion of the Day Gym to a large conference center will be the major component of the renovation project. It will provide significantly more space than the current banquet room on the second floor. Plans call for a complete makeover of the gym.
The room that once housed the faculty/staff exercise room has been converted to the Student Leadership Center and will house the offices of associate dean of students and coordinator of Greek Life/Multicultural and Diversity Activities. Cubicles will also be available for student organizations.
New and improved lighting and sound for the lecture hall is also in the works.
While some projects such as the new Starbucks and the bookstore have already been completed, the other Garrison Center improvements are expected to begin later this year after general improvement funds are received from the state, according to Jones.
“The biggest part of the project will be the renovation of the Day Gym,” Jones said. He doesn’t anticipate any down time for students using the Garrison Center, but there could be some areas closed off at various times.
Originally constructed in 1958 and named the Jonathan H. Lookadoo Student Union, the facility was renovated and combined with the Day Armory in the early 1990s and renamed the Garrison Activity and Conference Center.
Changes on campus have also occurred outdoors with a major landscaping effort. The most noticeable project includes the South Lawn. Three trees which have been identified as dead or dying have been cut down, according to Jones. Some areas have been tilled and fertilized and an irrigation system has been expanded across the South Lawn.
Areas without grass have received sod, and mulch has been poured at tree bases and spread along the iron fence adjacent to Henderson Street.
After consulting with arborists, it was decided to raise the tree canopy on the South Lawn and promenade/mall area and increase lighting. The same thing has occurred in the ravine area between the Garrison Center and the new dining facility. “This will open up and beautify our campus,” Jones said.
The next phase will focus on the Quad area and behind the Russell Fine Arts Center.
We want to the keep the landscaping low maintenance and be smarter about what we do,” Jones said. “Sometimes less is better.”
“All of this is to enhance the campus, providing an atmosphere for the students that gives them the best environment so their learning experience is second to none,” Jones said.
Following the completion of the new dining facility, it became apparent that the foot bridge crossing the ravine needed to be widened. Henderson looked at building a new bridge, but it was considered cost-prohibitive.
It was decided to widen the Amy Jean Greene Bridge by removing the existing rails and placing heavy-duty cables and railing on the outside of the bridge. This process added about a foot to the width.
Residence hall improvements
The carpet in all rooms of the Smith residence hall was replaced with new vinyl wood-plank flooring tiles, according to Dan Mabery, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of residence life. He said the chilled water pipes on the seventh and eighth floors were also replaced which will greatly improve the flow of air conditioning on those levels.
A new sidewalk and steps have been constructed on the west end of West Hall, and more Wi-Fi points were installed in all of the residence halls to improve the wireless internet coverage and strength.
All projects aim to enhance campus life for Henderson’s students. “We are doing all of this for the students,” Jones said. “We don’t want Henderson to be just good, we want to be great.”