Washburn Looks To The Future With Master Plan

By: Sarah Plake Email
By: Sarah Plake Email

TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Washburn University has a master plan to beautify the campus, with the goal of making a safer, more inviting place.

All the renovatons aren't just to entice students to attend, it's to make the campus an all-access resource to everyone.

17th Street leading into Washburn University is torn-up and under construction right now, but school President Jerry Farley said it's building the base for the university's master plan.

"We want to create a "boulevard" effect so when you come down 17th it has a great feel to it, that you've arrived at Washburn University."

The 17th Street project should be completed by mid-August. Farley said it'll probably take students and staff a few days to adjust.

The master plan Washburn's Board of Regents approved Thursday is a giant future bluepring for the campus and included several other notable renovations.

"This is the best plan I've ever seen on campus and I think it'll dynamically change the character of the campus," Farley said.

A $17 million renovation and expansion to transform Morgan Hall into a welcome center begins next year, $5 million of that paid by the university, and the other $12 million by outside funds.

The largest project, a new, $40 million law school on the southeast side of the campus requires about $20 million in fundraising, the other half of that will come out of the university's reserve funds. The university needs to collect those funds by 2017, so that the school can open in 2018.

An indoor practice facility for softball and baseball will require fundraising, as well. Farley said the university is adding the facility because every other school has that amenity. That project will follow the Welcome Center. This is in the plan in the next one to five years.

A new Kansas Bureau of Investigation will be constructed on the southeast side and will be totally debt-financed. Farley said the debt will be paid back through the university's lease with the state of Kansas.

The university kept students in mind when they planned to expand on-campus living. The data to determine how many more rooms and living spaces needed was collected from a student/faculty survey.

"If we're going to grow the number of freshman [and international students] that come to Washburn over the next several years, we will need on-campus housing for them," Farley said.

Making the campus more accessible and convenient to pedestrians was a top priority as well. Efficient walkways will be built to connect the different sides of campus and to parking lots. Farley hopes more walkways will make it easier for students and visitors to navigate campus.

"We want to create a campus that is serene, that encourages contemplation, that people feel safe, comfortable, they love to come to campus because it's a beautiful place to be," Farley said. "We want to impress people, that we're taking care of the outside of the buildings. We're maintaining the buildings. Just think what we can do inside the classroom."

Farley said there is talk of a library renovation, but that likely won't happen for another decade or so.

He also said during construction, the university will maintain as much green space as possible.

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