February 28, 2012 12:00AM
Pittsburg State University students will soon have an opportunity to support an upcoming fee referendum to help expand and update the Overman Student Center, construct a new Fine and Performing Arts Center and an Indoor Event Center. This is the first in a series of articles that will look more closely at each project and its potential impact upon students and the campus.
The last time a major expansion/renovation to the Overman Student Center (OSC) took place was in 1996 when Hotmail was the hottest new e-mail service, Alanis Morissette was a popular new music artist and Bill Clinton was wrapping up his first presidential term.
“It’s been a while,” said Jeff Steinmiller, director of the OSC. “You don’t really realize it until you put it in those terms. We had about 1,200 fewer students on campus back then and their demands were much different than the students we serve today. ”
Increasing enrollment and expanding services have put a burden on the OSC and its ability to meet the expectations of today’s students.
“We’ve really taken our time with these plans and listened to our students about their needs,” explained Steinmiller. “We discovered that we needed to provide additional dining seating, meeting and activity space, a more robust lounge area and increased visibility for student government and activity groups. We think we’ll be able to accomplish all of these things and construct a student center that can meet the demands of the modern student.”
Current plans call for a $14 million expansion and renovation of the OSC. This would provide students with more than 44,000 square feet of new space, and allow crews to renovate nearly 25 percent of the current building. Highlights of the plan include a new student activities complex, a larger University Club with an additional dining option, additional lounge space and new meeting and programming space. Full details can be found at pittstate.edu/mycampus.
Much like the generations of Gorillas that came before them, students are being asked to approve a new fee to pay for the construction. The proposal calls for a gradual annual increase of $30 per semester for five years to pay for bonding authority. The fee would be reduced by $45 in the sixth year and then remain at this level for approximately 15 years or until the bond is paid off.
“Pittsburg State students have a long history of supporting their student center,” explained Steve Erwin, associate vice president for campus life and auxiliary services. “In fact the building was originally constructed completely with student fees and faculty donations. We’re asking our students to continue that tradition and invest in the future of their university.”
While student fees would cover the entire cost of the student center expansion, private donors would fund majority of costs associated with a new fine and performing arts center and indoor event center.
“Students would only help with about 25 percent of the costs associated with these two projects,” said Erwin. “We’re continuing to work with private donors so those amounts could go even lower. It really means a lot to donors when they hear that students care about these projects and helps increase private giving.”
Students will have an opportunity to support these projects during an upcoming vote on the fee referendum. Voting will be available online beginning at noon on March 7, through noon on March 14.
For more information, go to www.pittstate.edu/mycampus.