One of the most ambitious campus renovation projects in Thomas University history is now underway.
TU has broken ground on phase one of a master plan that calls for extensive renovations to the campus, infrastructure and facility improvements, and the addition of new classroom and office space.These improvements will be funded entirely by donations to the TU Capital Campaign, and funds from tuition will not be neccessary in the completion of the project.
“This school has a very clear history, since its founding, of responding and adapting to the needs of the community. We are now engaged in the next evolution of change in our history,” said Dr. Gary Bonvillian, President of Thomas University.
“We are readying the campus to accommodate the full number of students that we anticipate serving in the future,” Bonvillian said. “Although we have made great strides in distance education and satellite operations, our core business is right here on this campus.”
The first phase of the plan, which is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million, is the first of a series of proposed changes to the campus over time.
The main road that formerly bisected the campus has now been taken out, and a new, more functional road system will be put in place.
The large parking area at the front of the school has been removed and will soon be landscaped to create a more park-like setting. New, environmentally-friendly parking lots will be integrated elsewhere on campus. Issues with the university’s aging infrastructure will also be addressed in the first phase.
Buildings, once the road system is reconfigured, will be arranged in traditional campus quadrangles. The former TU Chapel, which has served as the schools’ Student Support Services building, will return to its original purpose, and be grouped with historic Forbes Hall, Birdwood Annex and Ireland Poe buildings to form TU’s Historic Quad.
Each of these improvements set the stage for the major project associated with phase one – the addition of a new 16,000 square foot academic building. The building will feature new classrooms, faculty and staff offices, conference rooms and a reception foyer, all of which are sorely needed on campus.
“The changes underway will improve both the function and aesthetics of the campus,” Bonvillian said.
“On the functional front, these changes will make better use of the space we have, and capture new useable space through remodeling. Right now, we don’t have adequate space to accommodate the record numbers of students we’re enrolling each semester. This plan will address that need.”
As for the aesthetics, Bonvillian said an upgrade on campus is long overdue. “We want to bring this campus up to a level worthy of our outstanding programs and people,” he said. “One of our main goals in this project is to preserve the historic character of the Birdwood grounds.”