Discussing the future

Chancellor Schmidt sits down with students at Chancellor’s Roundtable


Chancellor Schmidt responds to students questions and concerns over the Menomonee Street event Center.

Although the table may have been rectangular, Chancellor James C. Schmidt fielded questions from students at this year’s first Chancellor’s Roundtable event in Davies Center.

The event, which was open to all students and university members, was a time for the chancellor and members of his executive staff to answer questions about university projects and initiatives. The focus in this chat was on the Menomonie Street event center.

The event center, which will be constructed on the land donated by the County Materials Corporation, will be the largest single gift in the history of UW-Eau Claire, with more than $10 million donated in land and money. When completed, the multi-purpose event center could seat between 8,000 to 10,000 people for Blugold basketball and volleyball games, graduation and other campus and community events.

Students were curious to learn more about the event center, asking questions about parking concerns and whether an off-campus arena would affect game attendance.

Eau Claire senior Brittney Gonzales was in attendance, and she said there were some points about the event center that she hadn’t heard of before.

“It was kind of new to me to hear some of the other things the chancellor talked about such as putting up hotels, restaurants, parking,” Gonzales said.

Schmidt said the university would like to see the site developed professionally to accommodate some businesses and their private money. He said this event center would need to hold many community events, in addition to university functions.

“We can’t build this events center just to be used by the university,” Schmidt said. “We can’t afford to operate it (by ourselves).”

When the issue of bike safety on campus came up, the discussion turned to a campus design that better supports bike traffic. Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations said sometime during the summer or fall of 2016 the aging utilities under Garfield Avenue will be replaced. This will be a rare opportunity for the university to redesign Garfield Avenue in a way that may be more conducive to heavier bike and pedestrian traffic.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to really take a serious look and make some major changes to the Garfield corridor,” Rindo said.

This project will have a $12.4 million budget, and the university will start the architecture and engineering firm selection process on October 22.

The next Chancellor’s Roundtable will be held on Nov. 19 in the chancellor’s room located on the third floor of Davies Center.