Renovations enhance space at UIndy

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The Student Engagement Center in Schwitzer was built with the help of a $260,000 gift from a donor. Photo by Derek Walter

The Student Engagement Center in Schwitzer was built with the help of a $260,000 gift from a donor. Photo by Derek Walter

The University of  Indianapolis started and completed renovations across campus over the summer.  Projects included updating Martin, Lilly Science and Nicoson halls, creating a new student engagement center in Schwitzer Student Center and completing construction of the Greyhound Village apartments.

According to Executive Director of Facilities Management Pam Fox the biggest change was to Lilly and Martin halls.

“We did renovations to expand some programs and start some programs,” she said.

Lilly and Martin received upgraded laboratories, the addition of student collaboration areas and faculty conference rooms and an updated layout more conducive to student learning.  Lilly is now home to the chemistry and biology programs and the anthropology and forensics labs, while Martin houses earth space science, physics and the new engineering program.

According to Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Michael Holstein, “It [renovating Lilly and Martin] was to bring laboratory facilities up to the standard that we expect for the students, in order to have the best quality experience they can have in terms of their education.”

According to Holstein, the total cost of renovations to Lilly and Martin was $3.5 million, which UIndy borrowed from the University of Indianapolis endowment.  The endowment is made up of monetary gifts from donors, most of whom require UIndy to preserve
the actual donation and only spend the earnings.  UIndy can borrow money from the endowment, instead of borrowing from a bank.   The university will repay the $3.5 million plus principal and interest over time.

Fox said she already has seen students using the renovated facilities.

“As soon as the doors were open at Lilly and Martin, you saw students gathering in those collaborative areas,” she said.  “It was fantastic.”

Another renovation that took place over the summer in Schwitzer was the creation of the Student Engagement Center, which opened just before the start of the semester, complete with new and varied seating, bright paint, televisions and more opportunities for students to work with each other and with staff, including representatives from the Professional Edge Center and Student Affairs.

“We were looking for a place that both Professional Edge and Student Affairs could use to do small programs, but also more casual space that students could interact one-on-one either by themselves or with staff members,” said Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli.

According to Holstein, another reason for the renovation was that the atrium area was becoming crowded.  The university and the students felt that students needed more space to sit and study or interact.

The $260,000 used for renovating Schwitzer came from a donor as a gift to the university. Vitangeli has observed students frequently using the new space.

“That student engagement space is always packed,” she said. “I think we’ll see even more of it even, when the TV system gets turned on. But just from the one meal plan forum that I had, it was packed. And it was a neat way to gather students together in a more intimate space.”

Nicoson Hall also was upgraded over the summer.  The basketball court floor was replaced due to a main water line leak that seeped up through it.  New LED lights and a fresh coat of paint completed the renovations.  The renovations were part of a three-year plan to upgrade the facility and also part of President Robert Manuel’s Vision 2030 plan, according to Vitangeli.

The most noticeable change in Nicoson, according to Fox, is the LED lighting.  She said that she cannot wait for the first home basketball game of the season because the new lighting brightens the court and makes the floor glow.

A gift of $500,000 from Ray Skillman of the Ray Skillman Auto Group allowed for the renovations in Nicoson.  To thank him for his gift, UIndy named the new court after him.  Students can see his company’s logo printed on the sidelines.

While there are other renovation plans in the works, including work in Good Hall, UIndy is taking a break to focus on academic programs, according to Holstein.

“We spent a lot of time refreshing [and] modernizing the campus between the Health Pavilion, the apartments, Lilly and Martin [and] the library,” Holstein said.  “It’s time to focus on academic programs and academic excellence.”

Vitangeli hopes that students will enjoy the newly renovated spaces.

“My hope is that [students] find them to be spaces that they really enjoy being in, that they want to hang out in them, that they’re both academically and socially fulfilling for them,” Vitangeli said.  “I hope students recognize that the university is always looking for ways that we can make spaces more user-friendly for them, more technologically upgraded, more spaces where they feel like they can study and hang out and get something out of.”

Vitangeli also hopes that students recognize that UIndy has listened to their suggestions.

“We’re always looking at ways that we can address some of the needs of students,” Vitangeli said.  “We always want to hear feedback from students. So if there are things students want to see in terms of space, there are people on campus that would love to hear that.”

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