The Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees approved a reduction in square footage for a forthcoming student union and recreation center on the Russellville campus during a meeting at the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center on Monday, Nov. 20.
As a result of the decision, the square footage of the building will be reduced from the original design of 95,000 square feet to 68,000 square feet. Cuts from the original design to achieve the reduced square footage will include adjusting from three to two recreational basketball courts, removal of an indoor walking track and a veranda, a reduction in square footage in some workout spaces and a reduction in meeting space square footage.
By pivoting from the original design to the newly adopted schematic, it is estimated that the change in plans will reduce the construction cost of the facility by $3.7 million.
Jim Smith of Fayetteville, ATU Board of Trustees chairman, also cited the anticipated savings in utility and maintenance costs the university will realize as a result of choosing the smaller design.
“I believe it is important to strike a balance between the needs of students, the needs of faculty and staff and fiscal responsibility,” said Dr. Russell Jones, ATU interim president. “I believe the plan approved by trustees today is a fair compromise. It was necessary that we reduce the cost of the building. Leaving the building in its original design would not have been fiscally responsible. This will allow us to re-direct funds towards much-needed renovations and maintenance elsewhere on campus.”
The new schematic that was approved by trustees is the result of input from the ATU Student Government Association, students who attended a town hall meeting and students who responded to a survey about their priority spaces in the new building.
“I am grateful to our student leaders for their active and constructive participation in this process,” said Jones. “We are here to serve students and their input was essential in arriving at this solution.”
Priorities expressed by ATU students included a meeting space capable of hosting up to 225 students at a time, offices supporting outdoor recreation activities and space for esports. Each of those spaces is included in the revised building schematic approved by trustees.
“We trust our administration to make the best decision for students,” said Hannah Stone, ATU Student Government Association president, during the board meeting.