New Student Services building on schedule

Students, faculty and staff who returned to the campus this fall may have noticed the construction of a new building on the east side of campus.

Construction plans are on schedule for the new Student Services building, said Phil Gatton, director of Plant and Service Operations. The facility aims to make the campus look more organized and attractive to prospective students, he said. It is also intended to eliminate the Woody Shuffle, a process where students must visit Woody Hall to complete all of their student employment  information.

The building is scheduled to be finished in fall 2013. It is replacing a parking garage, which was demolished in January of this year.

The SIU Board of Trustees released a statement when the project began that the facility will accommodate the offices necessary to provide an enrollment-related function as well as a new welcome center with staff to serve students. The welcome center will have an open reception area with the latest technology to meet all of students’needs, according to the statement that was made.

A worker cleans up Friday at the New Student Service Building construction site on the east side of campus. The construction, which began April 18, is right on schedule to be completed by June 2013, said Phil Gatton, director of Plant and Service Operations. The building’s first floor shows different stages of completion, Gatton said, because it’s the fastest method for an accelerated project. He said the project has also brought money to the southern Illinois economy because of the university’s project labor agreement, which required mostly local union workers to be hired for the construction work. “It’s been a big boom for the economy and will be great for students,” Gatton said. “The main entrance will be like a shopping mall where students can walk into the atrium and easily navigate, as opposed to Woody Hall.”
Tiffany Blanchette | Daily Egyptian

The building will add accessibility for students and be a welcoming site for prospective freshmen who visit the campus for the first time, Gatton said. Chancellor Rita Cheng said it will improve the look of campus where many families and potential students enter the campus.

Gatton said he is really excited about the new building.

“(It) will be a nice showpiece, and the functionality will be a huge benefit for students, faculty and alumni,” he said.

Gatton said the well-known Woody Shuffle is often confusing and hard to navigate, especially for new students who are not used to campus locations yet.  He said the offices that apply students’ needs will be consolidated in one single location.

Rod Sievers, university spokesman, said the building will help students pay their bursar bills, talk to admissions counselors, register for classes, get career counseling, and file for financial aid in all one place without having to deal with the unnecassary frustration associated with the Woody Shuffle.

“The building will provide a one-stop shop where the offices will be working in conjuncture with each other under one roof,” he said.

One of the problems with the construction of the new Student Services building is the elimination of 344 parking spots from the recently demolished parking garage.

Gatton said new parking availability has been added near the Student Center.  Commuting faculty and students with cars have the option of parking in additional spaces east of the construction site.  These added parking spaces and a new parking lot east of the Student Center have made up for much of the parking spaces that were lost in the demolition of the parking garage, Gatton said.

The building’s construction site is a frustration to some students because it blocks some sidewalks and routes to classes.

Jamesia Banks, a sophomore from Chicago studying radio-television, said she is  excited for the construction to be finished because she dislikes how some of the sidewalks and routes to the Student Center and campus are blocked because of  construction.

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