The university is ushering in a new era that will be filled with newer, nicer buildings, but it’s not without bittersweet reactions from students and alumni alike.
Five construction projects are taking place all at once on campus:
- The Science, Engineering Research Center (SERC)
- Wessel hall in the Freshman Village
- Moody Coliseum
- Cullen auditorium
- Plans in place for relocated Intramural Fields
Construction impact on campus
With renovations of Moody and Cullen wrapping up and the construction of Wessel Hall breaking ground, improvements to campus facilities continue.
Kevin Campbell, senior vice president for operations, said after Moody Coliseum is complete, the university hopes to keep the momentum going on Freshman Village and start the short-term plan for the intramural fields. The current main project is the new freshman dorm, Wessel Hall.
“Construction in the long term is changing campus,” Campbell said. “But it is giving us a much stronger place for our students to live and create community. It has given us the ability to create a Freshman Village for them to form relationships as they transition into college together.”
On the north side of campus, construction continues on Moody Coliseum and Cullen auditorium, both of which are expected to be handed over to the university in June.
“[The north side of campus] is a place where we gather,” Campbell said. “Those are places where students gather the most. It is giving us much better facilities that needed to be upgraded. It is going to give patrons and students a better experience to enjoy events put on by student productions”
Alongside the more recent announcement of SERC being built in place of the intramural fields, Campbell said the research facility will open a door for the university and its students.
“The science and engineering research center is going to enable us to do research and advance the university’s research portfolio to a whole new level,” Campbell said. “We are just scratching the surface on the possibilities for research and the type of activities that will add to the educational experience.”
Fundraising takes effect
While the plans for construction are important for the campus, fundraising for those projects takes a huge part in the incentive to improve.
Dan Macaluso, vice president for advancement, said construction projects are affected significantly by fundraising.
“There’s significant fundraising for all of them,” Macaluso said. “We try to make sure that we really have investment from outside sources help us with this and we’ve actually been quite successful in some of these big projects.”
Moody Coliseum received $49 million in fundraising with 600 plus donors contributing. However, donors can range from project to project Macaluso said.
“It kind of depends on the level of interest and how broad that interest is. With Moody, it affects the entire campus,” Macaluso said. “A lot of people have had different experiences. There’s a lot of them that we’re really interested in seeing that transformed.”
While the number of donors ranges from project to project, these donors can range in the reason they are giving, said Macaluso.
“The thing I like about this campus is when you walk around if you’re really paying attention, their names on almost everything, you know, and some of them are honorific to where somebody made a gift,” Macaluso said. “In fact, a lot of times someone makes a gift, an honor, somebody will name a professor that they loved, a family member or something like that. But I like people seeing names on things, especially students because I like them to be the reminder that there are others that make this all possible.”
A new start for Chapel
With Moody and Cullen being under construction, Office of Spiritual Formation continues to adjust to the changing plans. This semester and last the Chapel Office made use of the Teague Center for a “Moody Chapel” and welcomed new small group chapel options.
“Hopefully Moody and Cullen will be done in such a way that we will be able to plan on where we will be,” Cyrus Eaton, dean of spiritual formation and campus chaplain, said.
The moving of Moody chapel to the Teague center has caused readjustments with the use of apps for Chapel credit and mobile worship teams.
“The investments that have been made into Moody have been done intentionally to enhance how hospitable we can be,” Eaton said.”Many of our current students have not had to experience the fun challenges of bats flying out of the ceiling and interrupting chapel. Or the challenges of depending on where you were at you could not hear what the speaker was saying.”
In the more recent weeks, Office of Spiritual Formation has moved Chapel outside to the amphitheater as the weather is warmer.
“We see these investments into Moody is allowing us to create a space of hospitality,” “Our hope is as Moody comes back available to us with the major improvements that they have made that it allows us to better both serve one another but also to meet in a space that provides for truly being able to listen, hear, engage and relate.”
While older projects get completed and new projects break ground, the face of campus will continue to change and bring with it excitement, new beginnings and bittersweet endings.