Campus overhaul dramatically changed from concept

By Gus Bode

When former Chancellor Walter Wendler conceived the vision for Saluki Way in 2005, it looked dramatically different from the $83 million first phase that started Tuesday.

Officials broke ground on the new football stadium, which was one element that remained unchanged between the plan four years ago and now. Both plans also include renovation of SIU Arena in the first phase.

The first phase of the current plan includes a student services building to house representatives from areas such as financial aid and the residence halls. Wendler’s plan delayed that building until the second phase.


Instead, his plan included construction of a state-of-the-art classroom facility during the first phase. Administrators have included the classroom facility in later stages of this plan, but its construction is not yet scheduled.

In an interview with the Southern Alumni Magazine in December 2005, Wendler said the new football stadium and academic building were the main emphasis in the first phase.

‘The first phase … centers on an academic building and a football stadium, with renovation work at the SIU Arena as a sort of second step in the process,’ Wendler said at the time. ‘Phase two would be the alumni center and student services and administrative support buildings near where McAndrew Stadium now sits.’

Former Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said he believes the officials behind this version of Saluki Way know what they are doing.

‘I’m sure whoever’s making those decisions has good reasons for taking the steps they feel they need to take,’ Kowalczyk said. ‘I don’t think it speaks any less of SIU academically. When you get into these projects, things change.’

Kowalczyk said construction of any new facilities is good for the university.

Chancellor Sam Goldman said he believes the academic building was pushed to the second phase because of funding.


‘It will be done, the issue is just when,’ Goldman said. ‘My guess is that when we complete the student services building we will turn to that.’

Another difference between Wendler’s original plans and what they have evolved into is the funding for the project.

In Wendler’s interview with the Southern Alumni Magazine, he said funding for the academic facilities and parking could be funded through certain revenue streams, but the athletic facilities would be paid solely through private donations.

‘Parking is a quasi self-supporting activity, while the academic facility could be paid for through state appropriations,’ Wendler told the magazine. ‘On the athletic side of things, however, we have to partner with some strong private donors.’

In today’s first phase, which includes the new football stadium and renovation of the SIU Arena, funding comes from three sources.

The city imposed a sales tax hike last year and pledged taxpayer money officials estimated to total $20 million. Student fees account for $41.5 million, and administrators expect the remaining $21.5 million to come from private donations.

Athletic Director Mario Moccia said the main reason for the changes from Wendler’s original plan is that it was just that: a plan.

‘The original plan was a little more of a plan and an idea and a drawing,’ Moccia said. ‘I think it was some things from concept to reality as to why it changed so much.’

Moccia said many students think Saluki Way is just an athletic project. He said students should realize that the project is about more than just athletics.

‘I think the problem is that people hear Saluki Way and they laser fix in on the athletic portion of it,’ Moccia said. ‘Those other things are part of Saluki Way as well.’