Trustees Approve Academic, Athletic Facility Projects
A new gymnasium/convocation center, renovations to the Hogan Center
and a series of academic space improvements — projects totaling $18.75
million — may soon be on the horizon at Alma College.
Alma College trustees, meeting Feb. 2, authorized the College to proceed with project planning and the hiring of architectural and engineering services for the new construction and renovation projects. The Board also approved a declaration of intent to borrow up to $13 million for the campus projects and authorized the raising of $9 million in private donations.
The proposed facility improvements address both academic and athletic needs:
• academic space improvements totaling $4.5 million will include the development of high tech classrooms and music practice rooms, the renovation of office space in the lower level of the Library, and yet-to-be-identified improvements to other high-priority academic spaces in the Swanson Academic Center, Dow Science Center and Kapp Science Laboratory Center;
A conceptual rendering shows the proposed new gymnasium/convocation center as one looks east from McIntyre Mall, with the existing Hogan Center on the left and the Heritage Center on the right.
renovations to the Hogan Center totaling $12.65 million include the
construction of a new intercollegiate athletics gymnasium/convocation
center that will provide a new home court for the varsity men’s and
women’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams and will serve as the
primary venue for commencement, convocations, major speakers, concerts
and other campus events;
• student life and administrative facility improvements totaling $1.6 million will support upgrades to the Reid-Knox Administration Building, Student Services Center, residence halls and Wilcox Medical Center and provide accessibility enhancements.
“First and foremost, the purpose of improving the College’s physical facilities is to support and enhance the student experience at Alma,” said Alma College President Saundra Tracy. “Each component of our facilities plan is important in providing learning and co-curricular environments that will ensure the success of our students.”
Construction of the new gymnasium/convocation center will begin when planning is complete and $3 million for the new construction has been raised in fund raising, said Tracy.
“A significant portion of these facility improvements will be funded by our donors, who expressed support for the new gymnasium/convocation center in a feasibility study the College conducted last fall,” said Tracy. “Borrowing allows us to begin construction earlier while we proceed with fund-raising efforts. We are fortunate to have the ability to borrow dollars now to support these projects. We have a significantly low debt load compared to many of our peer institutions.
“The biggest element in this plan is the renovation and expansion of the Hogan Center. The new gymnasium will provide a competitive collegiate-level athletic facility and allow Cappaert Gymnasium to become an alternative location for varsity sport practices,” she said.
Conceptual rendering of the interior of the proposed new gymnasium/convocation center.
The Hogan Physical Education Center, now Hogan Center,
was constructed in 1969 when there were eight varsity athletic teams,
all male. Since then, the numbers of students using the facility has
greatly increased and the growth of women’s athletics has soared. Alma
now has 18 varsity teams.
“We want to construct a gymnasium that provides a competitive environment for a Division III athletic program, both for our student-athletes and our spectators,” said Tracy. “We anticipate, for example, a facility that features some seats with backs and a large ceiling-mounted scoreboard at center court. We also want to make sure the new facility is not just a basketball space but a venue appropriate for commencement, convocations and other major events.”
Preliminary plans call for the new gymnasium, entrance corridor and lobby to be constructed as an addition to the Hogan Center on the building’s southeast corner.
The recommendation to renovate Hogan and construct a new gymnasium was submitted by the Hogan Task Force, a group consisting of Alma trustees, faculty, staff, coaches and alumni. President Tracy convened the group in 2007 to identify the strategic needs of the athletics program in consideration of intercollegiate athletic competition, student recruitment and retention.
“Athletics has always been a major part of the Alma College experience,” said Greg Hatcher, a 1983 Alma College graduate who served on the Task Force. “Having facilities that are nationally competitive will allow Alma to continue to attract the best and brightest students. With more than 40 percent of Alma’s current freshman class participating in a varsity sport, building a state-of-the-art facility just makes sense. In addition, the gymnasium will be a showpiece at graduation and other special events.”
“What's exciting about the facilities’ plan is that we can begin to address not only critical academic space needs but also the needs of our athletics program,” said Karen Ball, a former student-athlete, 1987 graduate, current faculty member, and Task Force member. “With intercollegiate athletics playing such a major role in the lives of so many of our students, the upgrades to Hogan will really enhance that experience for our student-athletes.”
In addition to the new gymnasium, other proposed renovations to the Hogan Center include significant improvements to the pool in McClure Natatorium, which is used by community youth as well as adults for rehabilitative and aquatic exercise; locker room renovations; and redesigned space for the nationally accredited Athletic Training Program.
Posted: Mon, February 4th, 2008 at 4:53PM