Plans under way for Student Union

Northern Kentucky University’s Board of Regents approved a new Student Union building on March 19.

The student union, which will cost approximately $31 million when finished, is part of the University’s strategic planning process, which includes the construction of the new student housing on campus.

The plan, set forth by the university, is to build the Student Union where parking lot A now sits.

In a proposal given to the Board of Regents by Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Mark Shanley, the Student Union will total 140,000 square feet (compared to the 102,720 square feet in the University Center), and will be “a more defined activities and service center for the campus community.”

The proposal outlined some of the central features of the Student Union, include; all offices for student organizations, expanded food court and dining areas, and a multipurpose entertainment area.

“This should energize the campus environment with its central location,” said Shanley. “It will be a great place for students to hang out.”

Some of the services now located in the University Center will move to the new building, but rather then replace the University Center, Shanley expects the two buildings to complement each other.

“The plan is to place all student services in the current university center,” Shanley said. “This includes Bursar, Financial Aid, Registrar, Admissions, Advising and other student services in order to allow students to find all of their needs in one spot.”

The University Center was designed and built to fit the needs of 5,000 students. NKU’s enrollment currently stands at almost three times that number, at around 14,000.

The Student Union has been a top student priority since 1992 when the Student Government Association and the Board of Regents passed a resolution, which takes $20 out of every student’s semester tuition in order to fund the construction of the building.

This reserve fund has accumulated its current total of $3 million, which the University will use as a sort of down payment on the Student Union.

The other $28 million will come from the increase in tuition.

While the completion of the building is estimated for 2006-2007, there are many stages the process must go through before construction even begins.

Shanley said the university hopes to select an architect in the summer of 2003, seek state bond authorization in the 2004 legislative session, and finally bid and award a construction contract in 2004-2005.

Construction of the building should take approximately two years, Shanley said.

In her speech at the Regent’s meeting March 19, SGA President Katie Herschede said, “For over a decade, the top priority in student government has been to secure a new Student Union. It will be a place where traditional students, non-traditional students, adult students and prospective students will be able to gather and congregate. To students this is the most important project that we support and fund.”

Shanley said that the Student Union will serve as a sort of “family room” to the entire campus community,” meaning the building will be the center of campus life.

It will also give students an opportunity to host larger events in a proposed grand ballroom which will have a capacity of more than 900 people.

“When finished, the Student Union should be central to positioning NKU as an institution of first choice among the region’s best students,” said Shanley. “Hopefully, this will get prospective students to look towards NKU as an even better place for the overall college experience.”

Shanley said that the construction of the Student Union will greatly benefit the future growth of the university as a whole, and will enhance the quality of student life on campus.

“This is one of a number of investments the university has made towards improving the student life around campus,” said Shanley. “This is key to bringing NKU to a top-flight quality in supporting our students and their college experience.”