By Olivia Krauth–
The SAC renovations cleared a final hurdle today, as the U of L Board of Trustees approved the $40 million proposal to expand and renovate the SAC.
Key players in the renovation plans—SGA President Victoria Allen, Dean of Students Michael Mardis, Interim Provost Neville Pinto and COO/CFO Harlan Sands—were present for the meeting, with Sands and Allen presenting.
“This is an exciting day for us as a team here at U of L,” Sands said.
After a brief introduction by Sands, Allen gave the students’ perspective.
“I think overwhelming, this is a priority. This is a selling point,” Allen said, saying a top-notch student center would be attractive to prospective students.
“This is what a 21st century campus looks like,” Allen said.
“Renovation of the Student Activities Center is a priority of the university as we continue to recruit the very best students from across the state,” President James Ramsey said in a U of L release. “Academic success and student engageent are so closely intertwined that we are doing everything we can to provide the very best facilities for our scholars.”
The $40 million will be funded by $9 million in student funds, $1 million in accumulated funds, $26 million in private funds and $4 million from other sources. No state funds will be used.
While the board has given the go-ahead, the plans are still being finalized. SGA Services Vice President Kaylee Brandt said more meeting and dining spaces are hopes for students.
“We hope to obviously make a very appealing place where students both new and old will want to come hang out, attend an RSO metting and of course have plenty of places to charge their devices,” Brandt said.
The accepted proposal will renovate all three levels of the building, including the removal of the outside ramp and the inside esclator. New additions will include offices, meeting spaces, food service areas and a bookstore.
The renovations were initially supposed to begin last spring, where SGA planned on using $9.6 million to renovate the old gym into meeting spaces. SGA senators were reportedly “blindsided” when administrators said more money was available and wanted to “reevaluate project scope,” therefore putting the project on hold.
A previous board decision allowed $9.6 million to be used for the original renovation plan, which focuses on 10 percent of the SAC. The new plan and price allows changes to about 90 percent of the building, adding $30.4 million.
The project is expected to take from May 2016 – late summer 2018, with the ground-breaking in July 2016.
Two services are currently out for bid, food service and bookstore.