Students won’t be the only people moving in this fall. With the completion of construction on the Coates University Center (CUC) — now Coates Student Center (CSC) — members of multiple departments are preparing to set up in newly renovated spaces in the complex.
The Trinity University bookstore has moved into the main building. Student Involvement has moved into the space that previously housed the bookstore, while Counseling and Wellness Services will move from Halsell Center into Student Involvement’s previous space. The Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success expanded into the second floor space formerly occupied by the bookstore and remains on the upper floor of the west wing.
Conversations about the renovation began in 2013, but any progress was delayed due to the development of the Campus Master Plan. The plan started up again in fall 2017, leading the capital projects planning committee to appoint the CSC Renovation Committee. The committee included a representative from all the departments and facilities involved in the renovation. Additionally, Gordon Bohmfalk, director for campus planning and sustainability, managed the construction of the project.
After meeting with the committee over the fall semester, Bohmfalk and the committee members created a clear goal for the renovation — to fill the needs of each department with a new space and to enhance the flow of students throughout all of the fields.
Sheryl Tynes, vice president for student life, oversaw the construction and is excited to see how the centralization of the services impacts the student body.
“Coates Student Center really is the place where everybody passes through from the main campus to upper campus. It is more functional in terms of access. That whole flow of students through that area is going to be really nice,” Tynes said.
The project began after spring break by moving the bookstore into the CSC. All renovations are expected to be finished by the start of classes this fall, according to Bohmfalk.
The budget for the project was 3.2 million dollars. Bohmfalk explained that this amount was influenced by the Campus Master Plan and the vision of having the CSC as the main campus dining hall in the future.
“Once we decided that, we then knew we didn’t want to completely remodel the entire building for this use, so that determined what our budget might be and how we dealt with the building,” Bohmfalk said. “Because eventually it will be the new dining center, and all of these uses will be relocated to other places. We don’t know if that happens in five years or ten years or when but we had to keep that in mind.”
On Aug. 13, student involvement employees toured their new space. Members of the department were impressed with the spaciousness and the mobility it provided throughout the departments. Shannon Edmond, coordinator for student programs, was particularly excited for the potential for collaboration.
“As a collective, we talked about having spaces for students to collaborate with, so you’ll see in here a lot of different whiteboards to accommodate that collaborative nature that we’re looking for with students,” Edmond said. “We want students to use the space and see the space as theirs.”
Additionally, the building has an area made specifically for Alli Roman, director for diversity and inclusion. The space is intended to provide room for students to feel comfortable and to spend time getting to know each other.
“I’m most excited for students to have space there. That’s something I’ve heard a lot in having conversations with students,” Roman said. “They’re looking for a space where they can just hang out or connect with one another or have maybe some difficult conversations around their identities or a place where they can just be their full authentic self.”
Gary Neal, director of counseling and wellness services and CSC Renovation Committee member, is excited to be in his new space, designed specifically for the department.
Counseling and wellness services were moved to Halsell in 2015 in anticipation of this project, with the expectation of moving back into the CSC upon completion. Since moving to Halsell, Neal has gotten mixed reviews from students about the distance from Halsell to other parts of Trinity’s campus.
“It’s been a mixed blessing, and I say that based on feedback we’ve gotten from students,” Neal said. “It’s been pretty evenly mixed between students who tell us, ‘It’s just so far away. It’s really inconvenient. It’s hard to get there,’ and between students who on the other side will say, ‘It’s very private. There’s nobody around.’ “
Neal believes the accessibility for students will be more beneficial in the long run.
“It’s basically a trade-off between convenience and privacy, but we think on balance it will be a great thing,” Neal said.
Overall, the redesigned CSC is meant to enhance student life. Throughout the project, students were asked their opinion on the plans for the center. Jamie Thompson, director of student involvement and CSC Renovation Committee member, led the search for student input.
“Student feedback was sought multiple times through the cultural student organizations and also through the Student Government Association. We went to those groups several times throughout the year to seek feedback and identify what their needs were,” Thompson said.
There will be an open house for the CSC on Sept. 28 from 2–5 p.m for Fall Family Weekend.
| Class of 2021 | Majors: Sociology and Economics |