A home of his own

Todd Miller | Collegio Writer

Three years of planning came to fruition last week when construction on the new president’s house began. The original home, constructed in 1954, was showing the wear and tear of 50 years of use. One common problem with the old house was the pipes that burst occasionally.

Ron Womble, director of media relations, says the cost of renovating the old house was close to that of building a new house, and this led to the decision to build.

“In 2009, a contractor from Howard and Helmer Architecture determined that the cost of renovating the old house would be nearly the same as deconstructing and building a new house,” Womble said.

According to Womble, the building will include a residential area but it will be the size of a typical home.

“They’re building a University House,” Womble said. “The residential part of the house will be 1,000 square feet smaller, a typical size for a home.”

Another problem with the old house was the amount of space. Womble says when the house was designed and built in 1954 the only intended use was living quarters for the university president and his family. Recently, though, it’s been used more often to entertain and house university constituents. During an event, Sodexo needs to use the kitchen, meaning the president’s family is unable to use it before and after an event.

Womble says the 3,300 remaining square feet of the University House will provide space for a large kitchen, dining room and sitting rooms for various events and the guests the president would host. Another portion of the remaining space will be used as a guest bedroom for donors and other visitors to the university and president.

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“Usually, the Board of Regents stipulates that the president must reside on-campus at all times,” Womble said. “However, the regents made an exception in this case until renovations are done.”

Womble says the president currently hosts events at the Alumni Center and occasionally in the student center.

“But not often,” Womble said, “since that building is always so busy.”

Womble says about $2 million has been collected through private donation for the construction.

“Fundraising is ongoing, but there’s still about $250,000 remaining to collect,” Womble said. “The total cost for renovations is $2,250,000.”

An FAQ created by University Housing for the project explains the future aspects of the building. The FAQ says, “The University House will play a much broader role in the future of Pittsburg State University. A University House with sufficient entertainment space will assist PSU in the recruitment of students and faculty, the entertainment and engagement of alumni and friends for fundraising purposes, and as an economic development tool for the community.”

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