University looks to expand

As the UW-Eau Claire campus grows, so will its involvement with the community.

At the Chancellor’s Roundtable on Monday, Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich emphasized Eau Claire’s cooperation with the city as the university looks to expand, especially in terms of multi-use facilities.

“The only way we’re going to get (new buildings),” he said, “is to look at where we can partner with the community.”

The main facilities of concern were Haas Fine Arts Center and Zorn Arena, which host events for the city and the university.

Levin-Stankevich called the State Theatre the city’s only performing arts center, but said it doesn’t have what modern performances require. He said demand for a facility from community and university groups would help bring about an answer, however.

“It’s going to be a long time before we see money for a performing arts building,” Levin-Stankevich said. “If we can combine with the community on an arts building or the replacement for Zorn Arena, we’re more likely to be successful at presenting an innovative funding solution.”

As for Zorn Arena, Levin-Stankevich used the Barack Obama rally to point out the building’s shortcomings, noting limited capacity and poor backstage preparation areas, all problems he mentioned to Gov. Jim Doyle during the rally.

The university is also willing to use buildings off campus, especially in the downtown area, Levin-Stankevich said. This would integrate the university with Eau Claire and get more support, he added.

Freshman Isaac Borofka-Webb said the results of such expansion will benefit both sides.

“You would get people of different ages, different talents and different ideas all interacting with one another,” he said, “and I think that would help both the community and the university.”

Though construction will take place on campus, much discussion also revolved around the replacement of Brewer Hall and the Children’s Center. The plans call for the demolition of Campus School up to Kjer Theatre. There will then be buildings for the new academic facility between Zorn Arena and Schneider Hall and for the Children’s Center in a different site. Besides education classes, the new buildings will also host some student services, Levin-Stankevich said.

Members also discussed student fees that would go toward energy-saving improvements on buildings, like the current $5-per-student proposal at UW-La Crosse.

Levin-Stankevich’s concern was that Eau Claire will not keep any money it saves by being a greener campus. The university gets an appropriation of funds from the state, he said, and if it comes under the appropriation, the difference goes back to the state treasury.

“If there was a student fee for projects to reduce energy consumption, the savings aren’t ours,” he said.

Levin-Stankevich wrapped up the discussion by announcing the university has been developing a system to warn students and staff during a campus emergency. The university will likely be conducting a campus-wide test in the first week in May, which will involve e-mail and text messages to faculty and staff as well as the use of the speaker system in Schofield Hall’s carillon.