UW-Eau Claire announces a new Welcome Center

The project is expected to be completed in August of 2020

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UW-Eau Claire announces a new Welcome Center

A rendering of the new Welcome Center sitting along Roosevelt Avenue.

A rendering of the new Welcome Center sitting along Roosevelt Avenue.

Photo by SUBMITTED

A rendering of the new Welcome Center sitting along Roosevelt Avenue.

Photo by SUBMITTED

Photo by SUBMITTED

A rendering of the new Welcome Center sitting along Roosevelt Avenue.

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UW-Eau Claire recently announced plans for a new construction project on campus.

Students, faculty and community members can look forward to a two-story, state-of-the-art Welcome Center being erected along Roosevelt Avenue. Mike Rindo, the assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations, said the building’s budget is roughly $5.5 million.

When the university put together their 2010-2030 Master Plan, they worked closely with community members to figure out what exactly needed improvement over the next couple of decades.

As outlined in that master plan, the new welcome center will fulfill the need of a “sense of arrival on campus.” With university grounds located directly adjacent to the third ward neighborhood, community members –– amongst other visitors –– claimed it was difficult to discern where the neighborhood ends and the campus begins.

The cutting-edge building will now be the first thing that prospective students see when they come to tour the university. This is because the Welcome Center will also be the new home of university admissions.

Rindo said Admissions employees will have their offices moved from Schofield Hall, which sits in the center of lower campus. The architecture also calls for two presentation rooms, which will serve as informational hubs for future Blugolds. Foundation and Alumni Association offices will also be relocated from Schofield to the Welcome Center.

The announcement of this project comes on the heels of many others that have been taking place on campus over the past couple of years. To name some, there was the Garfield Avenue redevelopment, the Karlgaard Towers renovations, the construction of a new residence hall and the news of a new Health and Sciences building.

Rindo explained why this has all happened so suddenly.

“The majority of UW-Eau Claire buildings were constructed in the 1950s and 60s and they, along with the infrastructure that supports them, are aging,” Rindo said. “The university went many years without much construction and we are now working diligently to ensure our buildings support quality instruction, living spaces and student support services.”

With all the construction, the university has invested a large amount of money — about $85-$90 million as of now.

For the Welcome Center, the university won’t have to worry about breaking the bank any further. Rindo said It is being paid for entirely with gifts made to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. No tax dollars or student fees will be involved in the payment process either.

However, the university isn’t done yet. According to the Master Plan, there are more renovations coming to the university. Students can expect changes to be made to Governors Hall in the near future. Additionally, the university is partnering with the YMCA and the Mayo Clinic Health System to plan and build the Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex.

“This complex will replace Zorn Arena,” Rindo said. “It will also significantly expand available athletics and recreation space for students.”

Student Body President Branden Yates said he has been keeping tabs on student attitudes about all the construction on campus. The university’s main attraction for prospective students is its natural beauty, which is often times disguised by the projects taking place. However, Yates said students are actually appreciative.

“From my experience, students are liking the construction they are seeing on campus because it shows progress that we are moving forward,” Yates said.

Because the university is built along the Chippewa River and the Little Niagara Creek, construction crews will have to make sure the Welcome Center conforms to flood plain standards. That is the last step before groundbreaking is expected in the coming summer of 2019.

Semb can be reached at [email protected]

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