The groundbreaking event for the new student union and recreation center at Arkansas Tech University on Thursday, March 16, was the continuation of a process that was set into motion almost a decade ago.
“When I interviewed back in 2014, the students made it very clear to me that they wanted a union and recreation center,” said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president, during the ceremony. “That was reiterated to me once I was hired into the position. It was no surprise to me that when we created the master plan for facilities during the 2016-17 academic year, the union and recreation center emerged as a priority project.
“Quality of place is defined as all of those features of physical environment and qualities of life that make a location a desirable, competitive and economically vibrant place to live,” continued Bowen. “As we continue to evolve as a society, quality of place has emerged as one of the most important factors in where people choose to live, work and, yes, attend college.”
ATU’s new student union and recreation center will provide space for a campus living room/lounge, outdoor recreation, individual and group fitness activities, student organizations, food service, a convenience store/spirit shop, multi-purpose meeting rooms, two basketball courts, a multi-activity court, a café and events at multiple scales.
“The student union and recreation center will show current and future students that we are invested in developing them as both students and people,” said Len Cotton of Dardanelle, vice chairman of the ATU Board of Trustees. “This facility will facilitate greater overall wellness for the entire ATU community. It will enhance the connectedness of our university. It will help us recruit and retain students. It will contribute to fulfilling the mission and vision of Arkansas Tech University.”
Site work is projected to begin in June 2023 with construction scheduled to begin in earnest later this year. The estimated grand opening for the ATU student union and recreation center is between June and August 2025.
Miller Boskus Lack of Fayetteville was selected by ATU trustees as the lead architecture firm in the development of plans for the student union and recreation center in 2019. Personnel from the Dallas, Texas, location of SmithGroup have assisted in planning the facility.
The ATU Board of Trustees selected Kinco Constructors of Little Rock as construction manager at risk for the project during the board’s December 2022 meeting.
The new facility will be constructed on the parcel of land previously occupied by the W.O. Young Building, which was demolished in late 2022 and early 2023.
“Today is a turning point in building the sense of community at Arkansas Tech that so many of our students crave,” said Paula Gonzalez Prado, an ATU senior from Maracaibo, Venezuela, and a member of the committee that has helped plan the forthcoming facility. “We enrolled in college to learn and develop skills for our respective careers, but we also came here to build friendships and a network that will benefit us professionally and personally for the remainder of our lives. There has simply never been a facility at Arkansas Tech that makes those connections possible like the student union and recreation center that will soon be constructed on our campus. There, we will build upon the long and proud tradition of the W.O. Young Student Center and create even greater connections in a facility that will engage our interests and help reveal our path forward.”
Learn more at www.atu.edu/studentunion/future.php.