A renewed legacy
“For a 90 year old building, it looks pretty good, doesn’t it?”
Calling it Emporia State’s living room, Dave Hendricks, director of Emporia State’s Memorial Union, asked the question during a Homecoming rededication ceremony for the building fresh out of a two-year, $23 million renovation.
A crowd of people that started gathering during the annual Homecoming Kaffee Klatch that morning expanded to fill the Union’s Main Street and helped celebrate a project.
“I began my career in student union and student activities, so I know how important the living room is to our students,” said Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president. “We want to continue to build the enthusiasm,” he continued.
Along with a sizable contribution from students in the form of increased fees, the project relied on private donations to complete. Two couples with strong ties to Emporia State—Bobbie (BS 1963) and Marcia Agler of Emporia, and Randy (BSB 1979) and Jan (BSB 1980) Steinert of Wichita—chaired a Memorial Union renovation campaign for the ESU Foundation.
"This is not just a rededication of a historic building, I believe this is a rebirth of a university,” Steinert told the audience.
“I work for Emprise Bank in Wichita, and we’re constantly requesting customer satisfaction surveys to gauge feedback on how we’re doing,” said Steinert (photo at right), adding that the bank strives for “exceeds expectations” on its feedback surveys.
Turning to Hendricks, Steinert said, “I hereby rate the renovated Emporia State Memorial Union an ‘exceeds expectations’ in all categories on the customer satisfaction survey!”
The Memorial Union’s original building opened Feb. 15, 1925, and three additions were added in 1958, 1963 and 1972. It was last remodeled in 1989. The current project, which was designed by Treanor Architects, P.A., of Lawrence, Kan., kept the original footprint of the building everywhere except the east side, to which a 5,500-square-feet addition was added for a two-story glass entrance. Along with the footprint, locations of food-service preparation and mechanical areas were unchanged.
But many other details completely changed the look of the building. Hallways on the second floor were reconfigured to the outside walls of the building where new, larger exterior windows were added. Adding interior windows allows people using the majority of the meeting rooms to enjoy natural light and views to the outside.
Besides physical changes, the renovation allowed the use of the building to change. Three departments on campus moved into the Union—the offices of Admissions, Career Services and International Education, giving students easier access to those services.