Though UT has recently undergone quite a bit of change with the addition of Kennedy Place and Stadium Center, along with the new eateries in the student union, even bigger changes are waiting in the wings.
New classrooms, a performing arts center, another parking garage and a chapel are some of the biggest changes that will be coming to campus. Additional planned changes to UT include an intramural field next to the softball field and a new recreation center where the current one stands. A newly-revised landscape plan was set for UT in 2014, but has since been pushed back to 2017.
Dan Gura, vice president for development and university relations, helped explain some of the upcoming changes within the next ten years on UT’s campus.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s exciting,” Gura said.
New Chapel and Performing Arts Center Scheduled
The chapel’s construction is projected to start in late 2008. Interestingly, the chapel will not be for a specified religious denomination.
“It will be a place for students and faculty to go for quiet time,” Gura said. “[It will] be a very nice complement for a lot of the programs that deal with faith values and character development.”
The chapel is set to be built on the corner where the nursing center ends, directly across from Brevard Hall.
The chapel’s donors are currently in talks with an architect and Gura says they are very committed to this project.
However, the largest project will be the new performing arts center, which will be located next to John H. Sykes College of Business.
“We have such a strong performing arts group,” Gura said. “It would be great if we could build that kind of arena and put a gallery in there.” Additional classrooms in the new arts center will accommodate more space in the Bailey Arts Studio.
Office (and Classroom) Space
Classrooms are currently the highest priority in terms of campus necessities. A projected plan calls for two multi-level buildings, replacing the nursing center and communications classrooms and eliminating crowding among faculty offices and classrooms. The strip of lecture halls, nursing labs, communications classrooms and music rooms was constructed in the 1930s.
They initially served as housing for Florida State Fair workers and animals until the 1980s, when the event moved to the northern part of Tampa and UT turned the buildings into centers of learning.
The issue of space in the building has become so dire that offices are currently being leased for nursing professors in a building adjacent to Kennedy Place.
For new classrooms, 70 to 75 percent of the funding must come from a private donation, while in contrast, residence halls and parking garages are bought through bond revenues.
Room and board costs directly cover other dorm expenses. Tuition costs cannot be used to fund classrooms because the money is spent on running the university.
Unfortunately, because of the often staggering cost of new classrooms, donations for such facilities are hard to come by.
No money has been received for the two planned classroom buildings, but Gura and his team have prospective donors in mind.
“This probably won’t happen as quickly as we would like, but these two buildings have to happen,” Gura stressed.
Although some parking will be created from the surrounding areas of the nursing center and communications classrooms, UT is not concentrating on adding more parking besides the new ramp in place of the current ROTC building.
Unlike previous years, UT has not had to place students in hotels this year.
Stadium Center, a $45 million project, was completed this summer to accommodate students wishing to live on campus and help eliminate hotel residences.
The dorm has been received positively by students.
“I think it’s amazing!” said freshman Samantha Cook. “I live in a double and we have a private bathroom!!”
Jamie Wasley agreed, “I love Stadium … everything is so clean, nice and really well furnished. I also love that it is so convenient to buy food downstairs.”
However, it is projected that by 2009, students may once again have to start living in a hotel. In order to receive approval from bond holders to build a new dorm, proof of demand to live on campus must be presented, meaning UT must show that students who are living in the hotel would rather move on campus.
What does this mean for students? Probably at least one year in a hotel for some. It took just over two years to get Stadium Center approved for construction.
On the bright side, UT has significantly expanded its borders within the last ten years, especially with residence halls.
During the last decade, six new residence halls have been built: Austin in 1998, Brevard in 2000, Vaughn in 2001, Straz in 2003, Kennedy in 2006 and Stadium Center in 2007.
This rampant growth has created some debt for UT, so in response, UT has decided to slow its growth rate.
“Students and faculty sell [UT]. All we do is present opportunities,” Gura explained. In order to better help students and faculty sell UT, Gura’s team is planning to create a visual display showing UT’s landscape ten years ago and today to further excite alumni into donating.
But Gura feels the importance of donations go beyond a name on a building or a classroom.
“Our job at UT is to help change students’ lives, to provide opportunities you didn’t dream about before coming here,” he said. “But to help change lives, we need to raise money for scholarships and buildings.”
Naming a dorm hall on behalf of a donor is a project within itself. Each dorm has different costs. Therefore, the donation amount needed to place someone’s name on a residence hall varies, and is decided based on the market value.
Kennedy Place, which cost $22.5 million to construct, will add the name of a donor on it for $3 million, a price which a donor is currently close to matching. In contrast, Stadium Center, which cost $45 million, has a minimum donation requirement of $8 million to be considered as the building’s new namesake.
Those who donate money to UT are mostly current or past Board of Trustees members. Gura and his team seek donations through writing to alumni, hosting events, publishing the UT Journal three times each year and making contact with those who have expressed an interest in donating. These and other promotions are meant to stimulate excitement about the campus, as donations rarely come spontaneously.