Baker breaks ground for new residence hall
Baker University is once again making news during its 150th anniversary year.
Kansas' oldest university broke ground on its newest facility that will house students and classrooms. Baker President Pat Long spoke at the ceremony Friday afternoon.
"Oct. 26 has been a big day for me," Long said. "Last year I was inaugurated on Oct. 26 and this year we are here breaking ground on our new residence hall. Next year, let's hope we will be breaking ground on our new science building. Wouldn't it be nice to keep this tradition going?"
Long addressed the crowd of nearly 60 people about the changes that Baker will be making with the Living and Learning Center. She also spoke about how the vision for this facility came together during her first year as president.
"A year ago I talked about it and I've talked about the needs we have for this particular campus all year," Long said. "I've talked about the need for new living spaces. You know we haven't built a new dorm on this campus in almost 50 years. We finished our apartments in 1999. I've talked about how we need new classrooms and office spaces for faculty. I've talked about how we need a one-stop-shop where students can come and have all of their needs taken care of, whether its admissions, records or financial aid. I've talked about how we need new and improved student spaces, so that our students can have a place to go and really connect.
"Today, this groundbreaking meets so many of those needs that we have talked about," Long said. "It starts us down that road of really making some great changes here at Baker University."
The $6.3 million, 51,000-square-foot living and learning center will be located on Dearborn Street between Pulliam Hall and Jolliffe Hall on the north end of campus.
The three-story facility is expected to be completed by Aug. 1, 2008. In addition to housing for students, it will include two classrooms and a computer lobby.
"It will be interesting how we decide who gets to be in this hall," Long said, "when students see the new large bedrooms, shared living spaces and the great technology that will be there in the computer labs. Then our faculty will see those two wonderful open classrooms that will be in there, it's going to be hard to decide what classrooms and students will be in there. But what a great problem for us to have. We are so excited about that."
Although the new facility will sit where the Harter Union parking lot was, Baker officials said the university has more parking now than it ever did. A new parking lot north of Pulliam Hall was recently built.
After the new residence hall is complete, plans call for Denious Hall to be converted into a one-stop shop for financial aid, records and registration, admissions and business offices. Jolliffe Hall will become the administration building while the current administration building, Constant Hall, will be used for classrooms and offices.
"The exciting thing to me is this appears to be the start of the next 150 years," said Bob Honse, chairman of the board of trustees. "What a wonderful way to start the next 150 years with a groundbreaking. It's been years since that has happened. This university is vibrant. It's very alive. This is just one of many groundbreakings that will happen over the years."