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Decision on Benson Center renovations expected soon

On November 21, 2013

Despite what many students have speculated, a new sign hanging from the Tom Benson Jesuit Center does not necessarily mean that change will be coming to the building anytime soon.
The project is still within the planning process as a decision has yet to be made whether the building, which used to be the library on the main campus, will just be renovated or completely rebuilt, Thomas Raymond, director of construction and safety said.
Raymond said this project is still in the early stages of design.
Raymond said the building is not currently under construction and right now the building is currently being used as temporary office space.
The Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., university president, said the building is being used as a "vessel" for storage and workspace for the other construction projects on campus.
He will recommend to the Board of Trustees the option to create a new building, Wildes said.
Kurt Bindewald, director of university ministry and associate director of mission and ministry, whose office would move into the center once it's completed, said that the bidding and construction process cannot begin until all the funding from the project is accumulated.
In addition to Tom Benson's donation of $8 million, as the university will not be contributing any of its budget to the project.
After viewing proposals by the Holly and Smith Firm, who is additionally working on Monroe Hall, "The Mission and Identity Committee of the Board of Trustees sent their comments to Fr. Wildes who will have the facilities sub-committee of the Board of Finance Committee review the plans at the upcoming December meeting. Ultimately, Fr. Wildes will make the final decision based on this sub-committee's input on whether to proceed with the renovation," Bindewald said.
He said the new center will offer students additional space for all types of opportunities.
"The new building would also provide for additional classroom, seminar room and meeting space so needed on campus that the renovation plans could not provide. Also, the chapel design in the new building adds the possibility of a more distinct, visible symbol of our Catholic, Jesuit identity than the smaller chapel in the renovation proposal," Bindewald said.
The Tom Benson Jesuit Center will become the new home to the Mission and Ministry Offices and the Office of Service Learning, Bindewald said.
Kelly Brotzman, director of the office of service learning, said the opening of the Tom Benson Center would become the center of "the circle of academic life."
"It would really bring the center of gravity of the daily school day into this circular pattern of Bobet, Stallings, Marquette, Monroe and then the Benson Center," Brotzman said.

Lauren Cutuli can be contacted at 

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