Just days before the class of 2016 made its victory march across the stage in the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletics Center last weekend, ETSU President Brian Noland shared some of the things that those students who will remain on campus for the 2016-2017 school year can expect.
While there are many things changing about the internal workings and governing board of the school, there will also be a lot of things happening on ETSU’s campus that will directly impact the everyday lives of ETSU students.
“It’s going to be a year where we are either completing, continuing or initiating construction projects,” Noland said. “That’s going to cause a fair amount of disruption. [Next year] is going to be a year that will be the continuation of a renewal and transformation of the physical infrastructure of the campus.”
With construction ongoing for the new data center and football stadium, students can expect to see major progress made on these initiatives. However, there will also be new projects beginning throughout the upcoming school year, with the finalization of the plans for the Culp Center and the ground-breaking for the fine arts center.
“The work [on the football stadium] will continue through the fall, and hopefully at some point in 2016-2017, it’s really going to come into shape so that by the fall of 2017, we are cutting the ribbon on the stadium,” Noland said.
Despite all of the mayhem, there is good news for students who are frustrated over the limited options and accessibility of the dining options in the Culp Center. As ETSU makes the transition from Aramark to Sodexo, students will have nearly triple the food options provided to them.
These advancements are not going to come without a price, however.
“We are going to renovate our kitchen while we still live in the house—that’s probably the easiest way to describe it,” Noland said.
“We are going to continue to operate the Culp Center for the next four years, even though within that four-year time period, we are going to renovate the entire building.”
Noland added, “There is going to be disruption within the Culp. You will see when you return in the fall a very different main meal, and you will see a very different Treehouse, because that will all be refreshed with the arrival of Sodexo and a new approach to food service on campus.”
The external appearance and layout of the Culp Center will be changing significantly, as well. The planned addition to the Culp Center will extend from the edge of the current building to the end of the building’s ramp by the amphitheater.
The first floor of the renovated center will likely house food services, but the work toward this transition will occur while food service is still operating on other floors of the building.
Noland made it clear that the 2016-2017 school year will be one filled with conversations about upcoming renovations and projects, as well. He mentioned the possibility of a new residence hall and parking garage.
These new amenities would necessitate discussions about housing regulations and parking procedures.
Noland discussed the possibility of requiring freshmen to live on campus.
“Research indicates that students who live on campus freshmen year are more engaged and involved,” Noland said. “They perform at higher levels academically, and they have a higher probability of returning for their sophomore year and graduating.”
Renovations of Freedom Hall for ETSU basketball will provide spectators with a whole new experience, as the design will be totally revamped.
Campus concerts will be changing from three concerts to two, and Noland said the purpose being, “to bring some really high profile acts to campus in the fall and in the spring.”
The new Student Government Association president, Pooja Shah, will be impacting campus throughout the coming school year, Noland said. “Pooja is really focused on campus safety, so I think you’ll see from your SGA an effort placed on enhancing safety, lighting and security phones.”
Overall, Noland reiterated the fact that this will certainly be a historic year for growth of not only the structure of the campus, but also measures of improving student experience.