Campus construction projects continue to make progress into summer

For some time now, it is as if construction is being done on the UTM campus around every corner. From general building maintenance to major projects, here is a look at what students can expect to see in the fall.

Renovations for Graham Stadium have been in the works for roughly four years and began at the end of the football season in December. The old press box was torn down and cleared for a new one to be built in its place. The new press box will have large glass windows that look out onto the field and will have four levels. One level will be used for coaches and filmers. A club level will be utilized as a meeting room with a chancellor’s suite and the first two floors will be home to classrooms.

In addition to the new press box, new bleachers and seats are being installed in the stadium and the cement will be sealed with an epoxy resin to change its look and make it easier to clean.

“I think your football stadium is one of your showpieces from an athletic standpoint,” said Kevin McMillan, Interim Athletic Director. “With our university, if you really walk around campus and you look, we have an extremely aesthetically pleasing university and then you turn the corner and see the football press box it doesn’t fit.”

The renovations are estimated to cost a total of approximately $7.4 million. The funding for the project comes from athletic donations, as well as school-sponsored bonds and guarantees for football games.

Currently ahead of schedule, this project will be completed in the fall in time for the start of football season.

The renovations done in the Boiling University Center is Phase 1 of a much larger project. Phase 1 consists of the new Office of Student Life, Welcome Center and maintenance renovations, and will cost the university almost $1.3 million.

After the library was moved from the second floor to the first in 2014, there were questions about what to do with the new space. The proposal to create a new Office of Student Life, by John Abel, assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Services was selected. The space will be a unified area containing the offices of the Student Activities Council, Student Government Association, Student Affairs and Greek Life coordinator.

“Getting all of that under one roof I hope has a huge impact for students,” said Abel.

To add to the space’s functionality, it will also serve as a lounge or study area for students.

Dr. Margaret Toston, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, and Nancy Yarbrough, Vice Chancellor of Finance had the idea to have an official welcome area for the university on the first floor.  The Welcome Center will be by the Watkins Auditorium and inside what used to be the old post office. It will be primarily used for those visiting the campus but can also serve in other capacities.  The welcome desk is also being moved to the first floor.

“The Welcome Center, I really hope becomes a place that folks get their first impressions of UTM,” said Abel. “It’s a very welcoming place for students and anyone visiting the campus.”

The third part of Phase 1 is renovation.  Paint and new acoustic tiles have been added to Watkins and new flooring has been placed in some of the major hallways.  A new hallway has also been constructed to help people get from one side of the building to the other without going up the stairs and around.

In addition to the above, a “solar garden” is currently under construction. Funded by an anonymous donor, the project is located between the Paul Meek Library and the University Center.

Sarah Haig, Graphic Design assistant professor and Dr. J. Douglas Sterrett, professor of Engineering, have each led a team of their students in collaboration on this one-of-a-kind project since September.

Art department students (Ethan Applebee, Victoria Falcon, Thomas Kindle and Franklin Hawks) contributed by creating the site design and working to decorate the structure, and the engineering students (Jared Miller, Zachary Dysinger, Ty Roberts, Cory Oliver, Brice White and Joseph Sipes) have done things like assembling the solar panel array, mounting the aluminum racking and mounting and wiring the power inverters.

The main solar panel tree structure has been operational for several weeks and with a rough 10 hours of sun exposure daily, generates around 6 kilowatts of power.

The flowers, however, have taken some time to create. Each petal consists of two pieces of metal that have to be welded on the edges, creating an estimated 400 feet of welding.  Once finished, they will be sent to get painted and then installed before the end of the semester with the help of the engineering team.

The art group has recently begun decorating the structure and has applied their decorative paper concoction to the seating area.  It will soon be painted and the trunk covering installed. After this, they will install the decorative portion on the top of the tree once the fabricator has cut the metal.

Lodges for the Panhellenic sororities, Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Omicron Pi and Zeta Tau Alpha will be ready for use at the start of the new school year.  The groups outgrew their lodges in Grove Apartments in 2004 and with the help of a group of alumni, have been building since Fall of 2015. Each sorority has contributed roughly $500,000 to the project.

Located beside University Courts and off of Peach Street, the identical houses are close to 3,800 square feet and will be two stories.  Each has a front room, study, chapter room, kitchen, garage and open second floor.

“This is going to deeply benefit both the students and the university,” said Rachel Stephens, Interim Greek Life Coordinator. “For the first time in a long time, the sorority women at UTM will have a place that is completely theirs.”

Finally, students will also notice work being done in Clement Hall. The estimated 12-16 month, $7 mllion project begins in the fall and will address building concerns. A new elevator, HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems will be installed in the north end of the building.

Additionally, Clement will house a “One Stop Shop” to aid in the enrollment process in room 041. There students will be able to take care of matters with the Bursar’s Office, Admissions, Financial Aid, Records, Career Services and Student Success and Testing, some of which will be moving from the Administration Building permanently to Clement.

Several buildings, including Ellington Hall, Crisp Hall, Clement Hall, the Sociology Building and day care will also have roof work done during break.

Other general maintenance projects around campus include changing the windows in the Sociology Building, Holt Humanities Building, Hall Moody Administration Building and Communications Building to more efficient, double paned windows.

Construction outside of Ellington and Browning buildings for steam line improvement will also be completed.

“Steam lines require replacement and improvements at times to support the growing needs of the campus,” said Tim Nipp, Physical Plant Administrator Director.

As UTM continues to grow, keep an eye out for other things around campus as the university continues to expand.

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