Projects target fine arts center

By Gayle Bustamante


The administration’s dream of renovating Genevieve Tarleton Dougherty Fine Arts Center, along with additional alterations, will soon become reality as plans for reconstruction could possibly be seen this May.

The campus has undergone several changes and administrators wish to carry out additional plans through a series of three stages involving the current Fine Arts Center, the University Auditorium, and a new three-story, 30,000-square-feet music center.

“Our hope and dream is to take the Fine Arts Building at the corner of Broadway and Hildebrand and completely update it to a state-of-the-art function like we did for the Ila Faye School of Nursing and Bonilla Science Hall,” said Sister Kathleen Coughlin, vice president for institutional advancement.

The anticipated two-year reconstruction project will start with building the three-story music center, which will connect directly in front of Halligan-Ibbs Theatre. The music center will include a recital hall for small concerts and allow seating for 150 audience members, a choir rehearsal hall, a band orchestra hall, and music therapy.

The second phase consists of transforming the current auditorium into a modernized complex, holding up-to-date technological features for performances. New seating will be available for more than 700 people in the new auditorium as well.

The final stage includes the new fine arts facility, which will be fully reconstructed in order to allow appropriate classroom space and room to showcase students’ work and exhibits. The new galleries and exhibits will also be open to the community. An additional unique aspect of the new facility is the display of a mural presenting UIW’s values and the core of the education offered, which will face Broadway for the students and community to view.

Coughlin said the new fine arts center will feature the name of the generous donor who contributed in making the facility possible, Betty Kelso, daughter of Elizabeth Coates, UIWalum and donor of Elizabeth Coates Theatre.

Additional friends and benefactors from the community have established a fine arts committee and contributed in raising an estimated $2.8 million on a $16.8 million campaign. Supporters of the renovation plans continue to raise more money for the project.

“We would like to break ground in May but with the economy, concerns about the election, and many other competing art projects throughout the city, we may have to wait until January of next year,” Coughlin said.

Despite financial setbacks in pursuing renovations, the administration is determined to fulfill this vision because they are aware of the need the university has for these facilities, Coughlin stressed.

“The current facility was built for 1,500 students and now our undergraduate enrollment is over 4,000 students, so we have outgrown our space,” Coughlin said. “Another challenge with our current situation is that we have added the band program since we have expanded our athletics department, and we would love to get uniforms for them. The reality is there is no place in our current building to store them.”

Expansion on campus also allows further development in the curriculum offered for students. Coughlin said she would like to see the university offer new degrees and upgrade degrees to graduate and doctoral levels.

“Prior to opening the Ila Faye School of Nursing, we had certain goals we wanted to accomplish,” she said. “We wanted to increase enrollment in nursing and add a new master’s and doctoral program in nursing. The first two have been accomplished and as of fall of 2012, we will accept students for the doctoral program. We’re proud of the career paths the students are being offered with the new degrees and the diversity students who attend here can experience as they grow personally and professionally.”

Fine Arts facilities do not complete the list of desired projects the administration would like to accomplish, but students can expect to see a series of construction projects to take place this May as well.

Additional plans consist of a new student center as well as a new residence hall for residents on campus. The residence hall will be next to Joeris Hall, where construction will occur in May and be completed for students entering in January 2013.

The athletic program also will welcome an addition as construction for a fencing center is scheduled to take place during the current semester at St. Anthony’s Catholic High School. The university plans to offer enrollment in the fencing program this fall.

“No one else in town offers fencing except for St. Mary’s Hall, so it will be a nice addition to our athletics program,” Coughlin said.

Students taking ceramics can expect to see construction for a ceramics facility take place later on in the semester as well.

The main campus is not the only part of UIW experiencing change, but the northwest campus will undergo renovations as the ADCaP program expands this fall. Also, the university will offer a doctorate in physical therapy for students beginning fall 2013.

After witnessing the success of adding new programs and conducting renovations in order to offer more to students leaves Coughlin excited about the upcoming projects.

“You look at the pharmacy school and we have already had two (graduating) classes,” Coughlin said. “Overnight we changed the minority representation of pharmacy students in the United States.

“To quote Peter Drucker: ‘Set your goals, set your dreams, and when you do, they’ll become a reality,’ ”Coughlin said. “We have made our dreams a reality for our students.”

Leave a Reply