Willamette plans for future capital improvement projects

by Jennifer Johnson,

The university will direct funding to athletic projects, followed by continued enhancements to residential spaces.

After two summers of construction on residential spaces, the university is now working on facilities updates that will benefit student-athletes.

With women’s lacrosse officially set to be offered as a varsity sport next year, the university is supporting student-athletes by creating more locker room space, altering Sparks Field to accommodate soccer and lacrosse, adding netting surrounding the field and building a small press box. This work must be finished by fall 2018.

These projects are funded by a restructuring of the university’s debt a few years ago to specifically address capital improvement projects.

Ed Whipple, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, says, “Lacrosse will provide Willamette women additional athletic opportunities and allow us to continue our commitment to renovating our facilities for female student-athletes.”

In addition, Willamette will create a locker room for women’s cross country and women's track and field at McCulloch Stadium. The university will also improve the stadium's training and meeting areas, which will benefit all student-athletes who practice and compete there. 

Following these projects, updates on Matthews and Belknap residence halls will take place. The campus planning office expects both to be finished by summer 2019 or 2020.

In the meantime, says Jim Bauer, vice president for campus planning and external affairs, the campus planning office will continue improving residence communities. Jill Munger, director of service support, has been working with student focus groups and staff on how to make better use of public common areas.

Willamette has long been focused on creating a stronger student community. That effort can be seen in its recent renovations to residence halls and capital projects. In the last few years, the university revamped Baxter and Doney halls to provide rooms for 32 more students, redesigned the kitchens with stainless steel appliances and added new lounge areas. This semester, Lee and York houses unveiled modern updates they received over the summer, including a hallway connecting the two buildings that overlooks a courtyard and garden area. A common area was also transformed into a new home for the Student Center for Equity and Empowerment.

Another new decision this year was to place all first-year students in east-side residence halls — Terra, Belknap, Cascadia and Matthews halls, and the Baxter complex — collectively known as First-Year Commons. The close proximity helps students bond more with their classmates and participate in residential programming related to academic activities.

These and other efforts are designed to strengthen the connection between curricular and cocurricular opportunities for students.

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