Jan. 3, 2018
The Buena Vista University Board of Trustees has officially approved a $15.1 million renovation of the Harold Walter Siebens School of Business/Siebens Forum. Construction is scheduled to start in May 2018, with a tentative completion date of December 2018
“We greatly appreciate all of the donors who have made the Forum renovation possible and who believe in the future of BVU,” said President Joshua Merchant. “The focus of the renovation is to create a space that is more student focused, by providing lounges, modern classrooms, accessible resources, and a stronger sense of BVU spirit. I’m thrilled to be a part of such a momentous project so soon after assuming the role as the University’s president.”
The renovation will be driven by several key themes and student priorities. A more up-to-date dining experience will be introduced, providing spaces for students to eat and study for longer periods of time. Contemporary and modular seating will be added to the new dining area along with a wider variety of table groupings. An area solely-dedicated to external group meetings and conferencing space is being contemplated for the second phase of the project, as the current conference center is in the heart of the Forum but rarely used by students. A renovated retail space for the campus bookstore has also been proposed.
“I’m excited about the sense of community that this new project is going to bring to the BVU campus,” said Dale Scully, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “A more open concept with high-quality work spaces and study lounges, as well as the intentional relocation of the student leadership experience to the middle of the Forum, will provide much-needed energy and excitement to the space. Students will truly feel like they have ownership of a functional and modern student center.”
“We greatly appreciate all of the donors who have made the Forum renovation possible and who believe in the future of BVU”President Joshua Merchant
One of the most practical elements to be included in the renovation will be the addition of an elevator at the east entrance, providing ease of entry for BVU guests, visitors, and commuter students entering the Forum from the east parking lot. Overall, the BVU community and visitors will notice a brighter, fresher, finished appearance with enhanced natural lighting, and views of campus outside of the Forum.
Planning for the renovation kicked off in February 2017, when the BVU Board of Trustees approved a campaign to raise philanthropic resources in an effort to reinvent the Forum and transform it into a true, modern student center. On December 11, the Board officially agreed to commence construction of the project.
The renovation is a major driver in assisting BVU to meet or exceed its short, and longer-term, student enrollment and retention goals. BVU has a long, successful history of building and renovating campus facilities with philanthropic resources, primarily to ensure that the cost for such projects are not passed along to students and their parents.
“New buildings and significant renovations almost always create excitement among current and prospective students,” said Mike Frantz, vice president for enrollment management. “By coincidence or not, we saw enrollment spikes when the Forum was opened, the library was built, Pierce/White was renovated, and when the Science Center opened its doors. Students often seek a space to call their own, which is partly why so many colleges have student unions. Once finished, these renovations will dramatically repurpose the Forum with the primary intention of creating student gathering spaces.”