Memorial Union rededication will thank donors, students who made project possible

October 10, 2012

Alumni returning for Emporia State University’s Homecoming festivities on Saturday may find it hard to believe the Memorial Union is the same building in which they ate meals and purchased their books during their on-campus days.

The building, which just completed a two-year, $23 million renovation, will be rededicated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. The ceremony will be in the east concourse, in front of Hornet Express and next to the Kaffee Klatch sponsored by the Emporia State University Alumni Association.

Ground was broken for the project in April 2010 after Emporia State students voted overwhelmingly to fund $14.5 million of the cost through an increase in student fees. The project was completed in three phases with the finishing touches completed in early Fall 2012.

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 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.

“If Plumb Hall and Kellogg Circle are Emporia State’s front door,” said Dave Hendricks, director of the Memorial Union, “then the east side of the Union is our new side entrance. And we all know that, in Kansas, it’s tradition for friends and family to enter through the side doors.”

Hendricks has had a front-row seat to changes at the Union for nearly three decades. An Emporia State alum, Hendricks worked in the Union as a student before earning his degree in 1990. He continued to work in the Union as operations supervisor and the associate director for operations before becoming director in 2007.

Joining Hendricks for the rededication ceremony will be Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president of Emporia State University; Randy Steinert of Wichita, co-chair of the renovation fundraising campaign; and Brooke Schmidt of Eureka, student president of Emporia State.

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