ETSU plans to start construction of a Multicultural Center in the D.P. Culp University Center in April.

“We met with the design architects last week, so the design is all approved,” said Mary Jordan, special assistant to the president for equity and diversity. “It’s gone to the fire marshal, so it’s in that whole thing — going to the fire marshal to be approved and then going out for bid. So, once all of that gets done then we’ll have a more realistic, exact start date.”

Various programs will have a presence in the multicultural center, including the Diversity Educators Program, international programs and a new mentoring program. The offices of Access and Student Success and Multicultural Affairs will also be moved to the Multicultural Center.

“I think the goal of the Multicultural Center is to be a conduit for diversity and inclusion,” Jordan said. “It’s to have folks interact with each other, to learn about different cultures, to appreciate culture and to make us better citizens, in terms of being able to relate and deal with one another.”

Faculty from different campus programs will also have a presence in the center.

“We’re not really sure what that’s going to take on,” Jordan said. “Faculty who are either doing research in the area of diversity or inclusion would be there on a rotating basis so that they would have office space and can utilize the center for that.”

Jordan said part of the function of the facility is to centralize ETSU’s multicultural departments and offices.

“I think the part of the center is bringing together programs,” Jordan said. “Having it as a central location for diversity programs, inclusive kinds of programs as well as a place for coordinating dialogue and coordinating the kinds of things that’s going on on campus.”

The project will be funded with available Culp Center facilities renovation funds and the cost will be about $650,000.

Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Sherlin said no new fees were requested for construction of the project.

The university anticipates to end construction in September.

The facility will be located on the second floor of the Culp in the recently vacated space adjacent to the atrium ramp.

Jordan said the university will preserve the spatial scope of the facility.

The section closest to the entrance will be a student lounge and offices will be situated in the back of the facility. The Multicultural Center will also have a meeting room where students can hear lectures.

There will also be an entrance to the Multicultural Center close to the meeting room, enabling students to walk directly to the conference room if they’re planning on attending a lecture.

Jordan said an organized multicultural presence at ETSU is an increasingly relevant resource for students.

“We are in a time where, from a global standpoint, we’re not just sectioned off in Northeast Tennessee,” Jordan said. “It’s important for students to have a global perspective and to be able to interact with folks that are different from them and to have an appreciation for different cultures.”