UCO Breaks Ground for Liberal Arts Addition

UCO Breaks Ground for Liberal Arts Addition

Rendering of the new Liberal Arts addition, to be completed by Fall 2019. (Provided/Beck Design)

A groundbreaking ceremony for a $18.35 million expansion to the University of Central Oklahoma’s College of Liberal Arts building is set for Nov. 29 to mark the beginning of the renovations, expected to be completed by the fall 2019 semester.

“The [groundbreaking] ceremony involves a series of speakers that cover the range of the project up to now,” said Catherine Webster, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on the south lawn of the Liberal Arts building.  Speakers will include UCO President Don Betz, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs John Barthell, Dean Webster, principle architect Don Beck, and Tom Lippert of the Lippert Brothers construction management team.

“Virtually every undergraduate student passes through the halls and classrooms of the Liberal Arts building on their journey to gaining the foundational learning that is critical to our mission,” Betz said in a press release.  “The disciplines taught here will now have adequate space needed for teaching and learning, for collaboration, and for formal and informal gatherings; the space that will reflect the College of Liberal Arts’ central value to the university.”

Webster said the 55,000-square-foot expansion will include 30 new faculty and staff offices, 15 new classrooms, a coffee bar, informal meeting and study spaces, museum exhibition cases and a 200-capacity theater that doubles as a storm shelter.

“According to the timeline, [construction] will get started over winter break,” Webster said.  “We intend to open the fall of 2019.”

Student course fees over the past few years helped the college raise $3 million and bonds provided an additional $14.5 million to fund the renovations.  The remaining funds to improve safety, quality, and fundamental things in the current building are coming from the provost, Webster said.  Improvements include a new sprinkler system, generator, elevator improvements and restrooms.

“The longer run of the project is to renovate the existing building,” Webster said. “One of the challenges of the college [building] is that we couldn’t update because it wasn’t up to fire code.”

The expansion will have eight classrooms on the main floor and seven on the second floor.  Some of the new rooms will be smaller for capstone courses, larger seminar-style rooms and rooms with computers to accommodate writing courses.

The Modern Languages Department will move over from Thatcher Hall and the Criminal Justice Department will have larger classrooms.  Some of the new classrooms will be smaller for capstone courses, larger seminar-style rooms, and rooms with computers to accommodate writing courses.

“The goal is to have some of the classrooms equipped for more writing-intensive courses,” Webster said.  “Criminal justice [for example] needed bigger classrooms, so some are intentionally more seminar style.”

“In compliance with State Title 61, bidding for subcontractor work was conducted and deemed successful, so as to allow the project to move forward, on time and within budget,” said Kevin Tero, assistant director of UCO Architectural and Engineering Services.

The main construction on Pegasus Theater will be over winter break, according to Webster.  None of the current building or classrooms will be closed during the construction.

“The new space is scheduled to be open for use in the fall of 2019,” Tero said.

Remarks will be followed by the ceremonial groundbreaking and a reception with light refreshments.

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