If all goes well, Texas Wesleyan will have a new heart by late 2019.
That’s how Jim Lewis, vice president of university advancement, describes the Nick and Lou Martin University Center, which will provide a focal point for the campus.
“It’s going to be a game changer for Texas Wesleyan,” he said. “It will touch everyone on campus.”
Lewis said the center will be 44,000 square feet and two stories tall. It will be located behind the Canafax clock tower and will be a major point of entry for students, their families, and Wesleyan guests.
Lewis estimated the total cost of the center at $20,250,000, including $13,500,000 for construction and $1,350,000 for furniture (see chart). Among the amenities will be a welcome center, bookstore, food court, dining area, ballroom, student organization spaces, meeting spaces, a terrace that will feature patio space, and an amphitheater.
“It will have a major impact on potential enrollment,” Lewis said, “by not only creating a great first impression for prospective students but also changing the complexion of student life here in a way that would Wesleyan a lot more attractive to students and their families.”
Wesleyan President Frederick Slabach said in October that the center is named after Louella Martin, a member of the board of trustees, and her husband, Nick. The Martins made a substantial donation to the center’s construction.
Lewis said that assuming the university can finish fund-raising by January 2018, ground will be broken by late 2018 and the center would be open by late 2019. Lewis said that the majority of the $20.25 million will come from donors.
When he started working at Wesleyan two years ago, the board of trustees made the center a funding priority, he said.
“The discussion of the project has been around for over a decade,” Lewis said. “I saw an old proposal that was done 20 years ago.”
Executive Director of Facilities Development and Operations Brian Franks said constructing the center will be the largest building operation on campus since the Eunice and James L. West Library was built in 1987.
“We probably have 12 to 18 months of preconstruction,” Franks said.
Franks said he, Lewis and other Wesleyan officials toured other university centers to get a sense of what was wanted and needed at Wesleyan.
“This not something you build very often,” he said. “It’s actually fairly prestigious for the architect and construction manager and everyone one else involved because you don’t do these every day.”
Dean of Students Dennis Hall was one of the people who toured other university centers; he wanted to see what other universities have done.
“I think creating a space that feels unique and is dynamic is really important,” Hall said. “This building has the intention of being the heartbeat of the campus and really promote that vibrant on-campus experience for our students”
Hall believes the new university center will be transformational for the campus and become a unified place for students to congregate.
Hall’s office and all of Student Life will be relocated to the center when it is finished, but what else will fill the center has yet to be decided, he said.
“I’m excited, the more I think about it, that central mall area becomes more collegiate and very traditional in a college sense,” Hall said.