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MU trustees approve student center plans

By Laura Bryant, Dave Matthews and Caitlin Varley
On April 29, 2008

After more than 50 years in the Shriver Center, Miami University students will have a new place to call home.

Richard Smucker, the chair of Miami's Board of Trustees, said eight different student body presidents have pitched the idea of a new student center to replace the Shriver Center, but the project has never been approved.

But Friday, the board finally approved the construction of the nearly $90 million Bicentennial Student Center construction project.

"I heard it dismissed year after year after year-'This is something we just can't do,'" Smucker said. "But, I credit (Miami President David) Hodge for saying, 'This is something we can do,' and he has brought it to the front and it is now an actuality."

According to the Bicentennial Student Center final report presented to the board, groundbreaking for the building will begin 2010 and construction will be completed 2012-2013.

The approved plans include a student leadership area to be used by student organizations, a variety of dining venues, a multi-purpose large event space, a multi-activities theater, retail outlets, a recreation games area, several lounges, an atrium and outdoor venues.

The project will cost an estimated $89.6 million in construction, utilities and the necessary razing of Culler, Gaskill and Rowan halls to build the 207,000 square-foot center.

This compares to the $34.8 million it took to build the new Goggin Ice Center in 2006 and the $65 million for the new Farmer School of Business building slated to open summer 2009.

The student center will be funded primarily by donations and student fees, according to Hodge.

Hodge said he is looking to the new student center to benefit future students academically.

"It is incredibly important that our curricular and co-curricular efforts are combined in a way that brings student success," Hodge said. "We have been missing a focal point for bringing those two worlds together and this student center will absolutely do that. This student center will fill a gap that allows those efforts to come together. This will be transformative."

Furthermore, Hodge hopes students will incorporate the new student center into their daily lives, taking advantage of all it has to offer.

"Most importantly, it will be the students themselves who will imagine, who will make it work on a day-to-day basis," Hodge said. "And I think that reflects the confidence that we have in our students to make sure they contribute very definitely and very directly to their own education and this is going to be a spectacular building."

The board also approved a resolution awarding no more than $8 million for the architectural and engineering contracts to design the center.

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