Changing campus, changing community

Jon Hyatt
Construction continues on Main Street. Photo by Jon Hyatt/Clarion Call

Clarion, Pa.- Change is inevitable. As many of Clarion University’s newest family members will discover, college is a life-changing adventure. New and returning CU students discovered a change to their home away from home on move-in day: the progression of construction of the suites and Becht Hall.

With a $65 million renovation in full scale, some students and parents may wonder, are these renovations really necessary? How much will the ongoing noise of bulldozers impact incoming and future students? With thousands of students on campus this year, anticipation is growing regarding updates at the university.

Dean of Enrollment Management, William Bailey said the building of the new suites and renovations of the Rec Center and Becht hall are having a positive effect on incoming students. When giving tours to new or interested students, he said, the students are given the opportunity to see renderings of the new buildings, a picture-perfect snapshot of what the campus is going to acquire in the upcoming semesters. “The changes to the campus so far do not seem to have a negative impact on incoming students,” Bailey said, referring to a former parking lot that is now a growing pile of dirt and metal frames. He added, “We actually had a 65 percent increase in the number of students who visited this summer. The key of visualization was vital when touring these students, trying to get them to picture what is being built.”

President Karen Whitney said she is pleased at how the renovations are coming along, apparently right on track as she reported. “Anytime a university is under going a change such as this, it is both exciting and inconvenient. It’s exciting to see the change every day, but it’s inconvenient for students, such as those who worry about where to park or what route to take when walking to class,” reported Whitney, who also stated how the changes are refreshing. “It is a natural part of the cycle,” she said. “The ability for a university to be able to update facilities and refurbish beautiful historic buildings. I expect there will be a positive influence on recruitment and student satisfaction here on campus.”

Bailey reported that there actually has been an 11 percent increase in the number of applicants for the fall semester 2015. “It is early,” he said “for applications, but that is how we recruit. In the summer we recruit for the fall and in the fall for the spring.” What many students fail to realize is the true reason why the renovations and construction plans were formulated and put into action.

The driven force behind these changes were based upon results and concerns found on student surveys and questionnaires. Whitney stated how recent data studies of students who had visited the campus had a profound interest in the community and CU’s academic program, but when introduced to living quarters, turned away. She affirmed, “We always want to work with the students and find out what their desires are and what they hope for when they come to a campus. These projects were driven by student’s interests and will be open to the community.”

She explained how the new suites will include a student organized movie theater, where classes will be taught during the weekdays and movies shown during the weekends, a bookstore, Starbucks and the long-awaited Denny’s. Whitney said, “We want to bring a variety to Main Street, both for the community residents and for the students.”

Whitney said she is very eager to see the completed renovation of the Rec Center and Becht Hall. She detailed how the Rec Center will be “an Eagletastic place for students to swim and hang out” and how Becht Hall will become “a One-Stop Shop for students” regarding any counseling, administration or financial guidance he or she may come to need. “I am open to communicate with others about their concerns regarding the projects,” she concluded, “and will help anyone understand the details surrounding the renovations. But I truly believe that after these projects are completed, our university will be providing our students and the community with more enjoyable and affordable options in dining and entertainment.”

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