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  • Student loan debt takes political stage

    | Marcus Clem reporter |

    American student debtors owe a lot of money, and addressing their ability to pay is steadily gaining national attention.
    There are several ideas on the table to help with what Forbes charts as the nation’s $1.08 trillion owed by college students. Nearly 12 percent of that amount is tied to accounts that are 90 days past due or in default.
    “Since the recession began in 2007-‘08, this has been a challenge for our graduates and our students who leave school without graduating, as well,” said Tammy Higgins, Pittsburg State director of student financial assistance.
    Higgins says that a key problem with student debt nationwide is debtors’ confidence that they will be able to handle the problem later on, even if they are not prepared.
    “That’s not the best plan to make, though, as the debt creeps up on you little by little,” she said. “When it’s time to go into repayment, you might be in for a sticker shock.”
    There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the people in the worst straits.
    For publicly subsidized loans, which control the bulk of the debt, any unpaid amount is forgiven after 20 years. Most public sector workers can have it done after 10 years.
    People who qualify for the Pay as You Go program, available since 2012, can cap their debt payments at 10 percent of their income without consequence.
    “I encourage students to try to cap their loan debt at the starting salary they expect to make when they graduate or leave school,” Higgins said. “Of course, this has to be a realistic number, not what they hope to earn.”
    Some banks offer to refinance loans to as low as 3.5 percent for qualified debtors, according to Time magazine.
    For the most part, though, refinance without government support of student debt cuts into a lenders’ profit margin, and many are reluctant to do it.
    “Because the lender cannot repossess one’s education, it is much harder to dismiss student loans,” said Kevin Bracker, professor of finance, “in order to avoid creating a situation where there is a greater incentive for default.
    “That said, you cannot squeeze blood from a turnip, and some students have borrowed more money than they can afford to repay. Under this situation, it may be better for all involved to have a mechanism that allows for a remedy…”
    Such a solution is making waves in the U.S. Congress.
    Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren backs a proposal to sponsor student-debt refinancing for up to 25 million people to the current federal subsidized-loan rate of 3.4 percent. However, Higgins says, that would cost the government $58 billion over 10 years.
    The idea’s opponents howled over the tax hikes Warren backed as a way to pay that bill, and Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran, both Republicans who represent Kansas, participated in a successful vote to block its passage.

  • PSU commemorates 100 years since Russ Hall fire

    Michael Bauer, editor-in-chief

    In the early morning hours of June 30, 1914, the Pittsburg community gathered and saw in horror what remained of Russ Hall.
    The Main, as the building was known then, had been struck by lightning in the middle of the night and it wasn’t long before the rest of the building went up in flames.
    But through perseverance and rebuilding, Russ Hall still stands and 100 years later, the community and the university gathered to honor those who helped restore PSU’s iconic complex.
    On Monday, June 30, the Russ Hall Fire Centennial Commemoration was held outside the front doors.
    “Our university has experienced many dramatic moments in the last century,” said Lynette Olson, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “But nothing has been as big as the Russ Hall fire.”
    Not only was The Main uninsured at the time, but the thought of having classes for the upcoming fall semester was in serious doubt.
    It became a challenge for the school’s new president, William Brandenburg, who on the morning after the fire, proclaimed that the school would carry on.
    “Brandenburg said to the crowd, ‘We will not miss a single day of classes’ on the morning after the fire,” said Randy Roberts, dean of library services and special collections.
    Indeed, classes did continue and Roberts said that “not a single student withdrew from that fall semester.”
    The university and the community rallied to raise close to $126,000 – around $3 million today.
    “Russ Hall is a reminder of cooperation between the city and the school,” Olson said.
    Roberts spoke about some of the details of what happened during the fire and how some artifacts were saved that night.
    “It didn’t take long for the windows to break, which allowed the fire to spread faster,” Roberts said. “Hundreds of books and materials were saved from the building by volunteers,” Roberts said.
    One of those volunteers was a student named Rex Tanner, who lost his life that day.
    Tanner was struck by an electrical wire as he was helping fire fighters fight the blaze.
    “Rex Tanner was very much like our students today,” Olson said. “He was just a few credit hours short of his bachelor’s degree.”
    A moment of silence was held for Tanner during the commemoration.
    The city fire department may have consisted of wagons and horses a century ago, but Pittsburg Fire Chief Mike Simons said the mindset for those who fought to extinguish the flames at Russ Hall was the same for every firefighter today.
    “When a firefighter is arriving to a fire, they are clam and focused on the job. The same went for those that night,” Simons said. “They asked themselves the same questions then as we do today.”
    Before the end of the ceremony, the fire department and the city were presented with a plaque that reads: “Grateful appreciation of over a hundred years of service to PSU and the community.”
    A reception was held at the conclusion inside Russ Hall on the second floor where many of the artifacts that were saved from the fire were put back on display.

  • World Cup Watch Students gather for world’s top sporting event

    Michael Bauer editor-in-chief

    The world’s premier sporting event has been uniting people in supporting their countrymen. From Germany to Japan to even Pittsburg, fans have held mass gatherings to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
    Students from Pittsburg State have chimed in, hosting their own watch parties and it’s not only international students, either.
    On Monday, June 16, PSU students assembled at Varsity’s Sports Bar in Frontenac to watch the United States take on Ghana in its opening match.
    “My son told me today that they were going to bring in 30 of his friends to watch it,” said Mike Knaup, owner of Varsity’s Sports Bar.
    Varsity’s is no stranger to hosting watch parties from other sporting events like the Super Bowl, but this marked the first world cup watch party that Knaup’s restaurant has held and it shouldn’t be the last.
    “I’d be interested in doing this again,” said Matt Sayre, senior in trades program from Frontenac who also works part time at Varsity’s. “It beats sitting at home and watching the game by yourself.”
    About 30 supporters showed up and after each U.S. goal, the place erupted in jubilant cheers.
    “It seemed like everyone was pretty energetic,” Sayre said. “Everybody was pumped up and with the U.S. scoring 30 seconds into the game it made it pretty interesting. Once Ghana equalized, it was a nail biter.”
    So loud was the place after the United States’ 2-1 victory that Knaup jokingly told the fans about a noise complaint from the neighborhood.
    “I was joking about that,” Knaup said. “We welcome that, especially when you’re cheering for the USA.”
    But the United States isn’t the only team students are gathering to watch as people from other countries have their own nations to cheer for, including host nation Brazil.
    “I support Brazil, of course,” said Emely Baldi, junior in pharmacy from Brazil. “In Brazil, since you are a child, you are used to soccer and learn to appreciate it. It is a national passion and it gets more prominent during the world cup.”
    International students have also been gathering in their dorm rooms to watch.
    While American supporters are just hoping that the United States can advance to the knockout stages, Brazilian fans are demanding nothing less than for Brazil to win the entire tournament.
    “I expect to see Brazil in the final game,” Baldi said. “However, I don’t have any preference about who the opponent is. I would love to see Brazil win the world cup, especially since this one is in our house.”
    But being away from home while watching the world cup has its perks. For one, Baldi and the rest of the Brazilian fans are rooting from outside of their home country.
    “Even though I’m cheering here, it is not the same feeling. In Brazil, the world cup is a time to celebrate and support Brazil with my family and friends and I really would want to be there to do it,” Baldi said.
    Another difference lies in the experience in watching the tournament.
    “In Brazil, I love to live this experience and I know how people there can get crazy watching it,” Baldi said. “Since this world cup is in Brazil, I imagine it’s about ten times more amazing.”
    But not everyone is rooting just for their home nations. Some fans have taken a liking to individual stars such as four-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner Lionel Messi from Argentina.
    “I support Argentina because I like Messi and I believe he is one of the legendary players of the world,” said Tanjima Alam, graduate student in human resource development from Bangladesh.
    Alam, who said she traditionally watches the world cup in her home country with family and friends, would like to see Argentina and Brazil in the final match and loves everything about the tournament.
    “I like to watch because it’s really exciting and I like (soccer),” Alam said. “I enjoy the goals and most of all, the crowd.”

  • PSU Theater eyes ‘professional’ spotlight

    | Marcus Clem reporter |

    A line of people out the door and stretching down the block for Pittsburg State’s student coterie is not unexpected during any given show, and now PSU Theater is set for a stage said to be key in taking that success to the next level.
    The Center for the Arts will open its doors this August, and one of its chief features will be a 250-seat performance stage.
    “I am so excited,” said Taylor Patterson, senior in communication. “I feel so lucky that during my last year that I get to work or perform in this new center.
    “PSU Theater that I have known is ending, but a new era is starting for our underclassmen.”
    Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center, located at 503 N. Pine, has held PSU Theater’s largest shows with a maximum capacity of 1,500.
    However, says Cynthia Allan, chair and professor of communication, the new location will save her department time and resources and open new opportunities for her students.
    “It was a win-win for everybody,” Allan said of PSU Theater’s relationship with Memorial. “This won’t affect them too much because they no longer have to try to cram events … It gives them a lot more booking flexibility than they had before.”
    In taking up the space offered by the Center for the Arts, PSU Theater won’t have to pay an $800 fee previously owed for each series of performances at Memorial, though Allan says that cost was usually covered by awarding the proceeds from a matinée showing.
    A workshop and extended backstage facilities will help shows set up for most performances, Allan says.
    “We will not have to spend money dragging scenery down to Memorial,” she said.
    Employment opportunities will also exist for students who want to get a taste of the professional world, says Joseph Firman, Center for the Arts director. Creating this experience on campus was a central goal in the center’s construction, he added.
    The Grubbs Hall Studio Theatre will still play an important role as a classroom, rehearsal area and the main performance space for entirely student-run shows, such as A Very Potter Musical.
    Eventually, Firman says, all performing arts activities at the university may be able to do everything in the new building.
    “The beautiful thing is, we’re expanding capacity,” he said. “Today, there are some programs and shows that are perfect for Grubbs and the Studio Theater, and there are some that are designed for the Center for the Arts theater.
    “The new building is a laboratory space. Those of us who are there will be dedicated to the students, to honing their skills.”

  • Saving art, saving history University to commemorate Russ Hall fire 100 years ago

    Tyler Koester
    Collegio Reporter

    As she works to restore two presidential busts, Rhona Shand is learning a bit of Pitt State history.
    “Art isn’t necessarily made for art’s sake,” says Shand, associate professor and chair of the university’s art department. “You sometimes make art to explore history and other disciplines.”
    Shand has been working on busts of Theodore Roosevelt, who was U.S. president when the university was established, and Woodrow Wilson, who was president when fire destroyed Russ Hall.
    She is among many faculty members who are taking part in keeping alive memory of the fire 100 years ago. In commemoration of the fire’s centennial, the busts, which have been stored away for years, will be brought back in public view on the second floor of Russ Hall.
    But first they need minor touchups from Shand’s expert hands, filling in major cracks in the base, repainting the metallic paint to match their new home and other work.
    The busts will be unveiled during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, June 30, in front of Russ Hall.
    The fire began with a single strike of lightning during the early morning hours of June 30, 1914, where the south end of Russ Hall was hit and engulfed in flames. The building, which was only 5 years old at the time, was quickly flooded with students, townspeople and other volunteers who tried to salvage as many textbooks and desks from the north end as possible, before a great wind from the south end delivered the fire to the rest of the building.
    Among these volunteers was 22-year-old Rex Tanner, who at the time was attending summer school to earn an advanced degree.
    Tanner was killed when a power line that connected Russ Hall to the Industrial Arts Building fell. Deck, a horse he was attempting to keep calm, also was killed. Tanner’s acts of courage are recorded on a brass plaque at the entrance of Russ Hall today.
    “Through refurbishing the busts I get to learn a little bit more about Pitt State’s history,” Shand said, adding that she hopes the busts will remind current and future students of the spirit that drives the university.

  • Golf program put on hold

    Michael Bauer, sports editor

    The Pittsburg State golf program will be suspending operations for the 2014-15 school year.
    On Wednesday, May 7, athletic director Jim Johnson announced that the golf team will not be competing during next school year.
    During this time, university administrators will be teaming with an advisory board of former lettermen as well as local golf supporters in a comprehensive study and evaluation of the long-term viability of the program.
    “We discussed it with Dr. (Steve) Scott and with key people in town who are golf supporters,” Johnson said. “It felt like the best way to do this was to put everything on hold rather than to just fix a hole in the boat while being in the middle of the ocean. We’re going to see if we can put the finances in place to see if we can have a program that’ll compete nationally.”
    The board will look at different funding models and determine whether the golf team will continue in 2015-16.
    “For a number of years, there hasn’t been a commitment to fund the golf program to a way to where they have a chance to compete in the MIAA,” Johnson said. “We have some teams in the conference that are good enough to compete nationally.”
    The golf team has struggled at competitions with recently finished dead last out of the 12-team field at the MIAA Championships in April.
    “We don’t want to sponsor a sport unless we’re giving them a chance to compete,” Johnson said.
    With funding being the key reason for the team’s struggles, Johnson summarized the university’s plan in three ways to look at how to better support PSU golf: coaching, scholarships and travel expenses.
    “I would like to think they will look at it as a whole,” said head coach Todd Loveland. “It’s going to take more funding. The commitment has to be at a higher rate than it is now but I believe it will return.”
    From about 1990-2012, Pitt State has had a full-time university employee in charge of the golf team but only as a part-time coach. This changed in 2012 when the university hired Loveland who works outside of PSU.
    “When (former coach) Matt Brock left, we moved away from that model and looked at other models and that was a part-time person who wasn’t a full time university employee,” Johnson said. “There’s positive and negatives of that model but we need to examine more to see how to have a full-time university coach.”
    Whether the university decides to bring back golf is up in the air, but Loveland has expressed interests in coming back.
    “I would love to return,” Loveland said. “I have not been offered yet but I would love it.”
    As for the PSU golfers who will be returning from this year, their scholarships will be honored for the 2014-15 academic year. The funds currently budgeted for golf operations will be encumbered during the next fiscal year and remain available for the 2015-16 academic year should the program continue.
    The PSU roster has ten golfers, which includes one senior, six juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen.
    “It just stinks to have to work hard all of your college years to get to where you are and then this happens,” said Brandon Winfrey, junior business management major from Flower Mound, Texas. “Right now, there’s nothing much we can do except stay together.”
    Winfrey, who transferred from Coffyeville Community College last year, did find a silver lining in having to take a year-off.
    “This will at least give me some time to focus on my school work since golf does take a lot of time on my schedule,” Winfrey said.

  • 4.8 % tuition hike

    | Marcus Clem reporter |

    Students at Pittsburg State will see a tuition bill increase if the university’s state overseer gives the final nod later this year.
    Under the current proposal, tuition will rise by 4.8 percent, or $113 per semester for a full-time student.
    With the approval of the Kansas Board of Regents, the new tuition level for full-time students will be set at $2,468. The combination tuition and fee package for the 2013-2014 academic year was $2,953. The Regents are expected to rule on the proposal some time in June.
    Steve Scott, university president, asked for this increase in light of the decision this year by the Kansas State Assembly to keep overall higher-education funding flat.
    “The tuition committee and the President’s Council worked very hard to keep the increase to the lowest level possible,” Scott said. “We balanced the need for quality with that of affordability.
    “The end result is that, even with these proposed increases, the cost of attending Pittsburg State is still among the lowest in the region.”
    PSU has a flat-rate tuition, which means full-time students pay the same amount regardless of the number of additional hours they take.
    According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tuition statewide has increased 8 percent since 2012 and 20 percent since 2008. Since the international economic crisis of 2007, funding for Kansas higher education has fallen 23 percent.
    Jordan Schaper, senior in political science and the Student Government Association president, says that he believes this reflects a lack of interest among state legislators in properly supporting education in the state.
    “For whatever reason, the state doesn’t believe it’s economically justifiable to continue to invest in higher education,” he said. “That’s very unfortunate because a lot of the legislators making these decisions benefited from a cheaper higher-education experience when they were in college.”
    Breezi Hancock, sophomore in communication and data-entry employee for the university’s Office of Student Financial Assistance, says that she’s already dealt with a lot of students and families who are anxious about higher costs.
    “I’m sure that this is not for legitimate reasons,” she said. “Tuition is not really solidified until we get closer to the academic year, so people are just annoyed that we can’t give them more information.
    “I wish there was more support from the state. It is a public service to get an education.”
    Targeted funding for specific university programs did come from the legislature this year as part of a program sponsored by Gov. Sam Brownback, but Scott says that’s not good enough.
    “We’re appreciative of the targeted enhancement, but cuts to our general fund in recent years are placing us in a difficult position,” he said.
    Schaper says that students must look at the reasons tuition hikes are happening, not just the costs of dealing with them.
    “It’s really unfortunate that tuition is going up,” he said. “I dislike it as much as anyone else, but we have to understand that this is a response to Topeka and their budget decisions.
    “That being said … Find a way to get your voice out there because this is not a trend that we should be following.”

  • Campus buzzing with building projects

    | Trent Becker Reporter |

    More than $63 million in construction projects are under way on campus, making this one of the busiest building years in PSU history.
    Since the adoption of the master plan in 2011, construction crews have been quickly chipping away toward PSU’s future, casting million-dollar projects all across campus.
    So as summer session begins with fall around the corner, students may be wondering about the current state of each construction project. Paul Stewart, director of facilities planning, is overseeing all major construction projects on campus, providing the latest developments into the university’s future.

    Center for the Arts

    The Center for the Arts, PSU’s largest investment at $33 million, has been a dream project for nearly 40 years when the previous performance area, Carney Hall, was demolished.
    The project is now in its last leg of development. Stewart says the construction will be complete by the fall 2014 semester with performances beginning the following spring.
    The university expects to use this fall semester as an experimental period learning how to operate and use the building’s equipment.

    “As far as any performances and things like that, it’s going to be the spring of 2015,” Stewart said. “We’ll have a chance to move in, occupy the building, get a good feel for the building and understand the building before there will be a major performance.”

    The university plans to use the building for campus events at some point before the spring 2015 semester, a prospect that excites freshman choir student Anthony Gonzalez.

    “As a choir student the expansion is very much needed as we need more room for talented musicians,” Gonzalez said.

    Overman Student Center

    A project funded and voted for by the student body is the expansion of the Overman Student Center. The project increases the size of the existing building and includes a larger University Club in addition to more easily accessible student organization offices.

    Construction, however, has just started with a completion dates set for fall 2015.

    “Demolition is occurring now, but really it’s just a building pad at this point,” Stewart said. “A building pad is getting it up to elevation or getting a gravel base down, but we have to put in the foundation system and that hasn’t started yet.”

    Students attending the fall semester should expect the sidewalk near Yates Hall to be closed by the construction; however, Cleveland Plaza will remain open.

    “I don’t know that there will be a big impact in what we will be seeing this fall when students get back,” Stewart said. “Some of the areas will be demoed, but other areas the students won’t see. Like downstairs in the University Club, that area will not be accessible in the fall, but you won’t be able to see in there.”

    Scheduling the project in different phases is expected to minimize inconveniences to the campus community.

    Plaster Center

    The building named the Plaster Center is expected to hold future national track competitions, making this project a popular one among athletes and fans.

    The construction has progressed to the building’s structure where crews have installed metal beams for the roof. The event center is likely to be completed by the spring of 2015.

    The city of Pittsburg has offered considerable financial backing for this project. Senior vocational-technical education major William Holloway says he is encouraged by the university’s relationship with the city of Pittsburg.

    “It’s refreshing to know the amount of support the city gives to the university,” Holloway said. “It’s amazing to go to a school supported so much by the community.”

    The Plaster Center is expected to hold a variety of events, athletic and recreational.

    Other construction

    In addition to these main structures, crews are working on two other campus projects.

    Heckert-Wells is undergoing interior renovations for dedicated exhausts, lab hoods and new air conditioning.

    “We turned the building over April 28,” Stewart said. “On the fall semester side it will not be ready when school starts.”

    Stewart noted that although the renovations will not be completed by this fall, minimal impacts are intended.

    Part of Nation Hall is also being renovated this summer, though the university plans to have most of the work finished by the fall semester.

    While the construction continues, the current work displays only a fraction of the master plan adopted in 2011. Students should expect to see more construction as funding is in place.

  • BAJA

    Michael Bauer

    For the second time in school history, Pittsburg State University hosted the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition.
    The four-day event was from Thursday, May 22, through Sunday, May 25. It was the first time since 2011 that PSU hosted it.
    Baja SAE consists of three regional competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students from all over the country as well as the globe took part in the competition where they were tasked with designing and building an off-road vehicle that can survive the severe punishment of rough terrain.
    The static events took place at the Kansas Technology Center and the dynamic events took place at the Dynamic Event Site east of campus.
    The four-day event included technical inspections, design judging, brake testing, and sales presentations to fictitious potential manufacturers and/or customers on day one.
    For competitors, the event brings many challenges.
    “We’ve hit some bumps. Our engine was sent to us broken so we spent three hours to fix it to pass inspection,” said Jenni Herchek, a senior in mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
    Day two consisted of dynamic testing of each vehicle. For testing, the vehicles are challenged by a suspension course, a maneuverability course, a sled pull, and a speed and acceleration test. All events held that day were timed with vehicles being tested one at a time on each course.
    “We had problems with engine check but the big one is the design,” Herchek said. “If you don’t pass all the rules, you can get disqualified unless you fix it.”
    Once the competition ends, preparation for next year’s Baja SAE begins right away.
    “We’ve been working on our car all year,” said Dordon Gregory, sophomore in computer engineering at Clemson University. “Ever since we got done with the competition last year.”
    Other students have been working on their vehicles over the course of their college years.
    “For us, we’ve been making leaps and bounds over the past three years. We’re really happy with this car,” said Alec Burgess, junior in mechanical engineering from the University of Arkansas.
    For most students, the challenging parts include working on their cars while balancing their work schedule back home.
    “I’ve been down in Dallas this last semester on an internship so not being here has been a challenge,” Burgess said. “I’ve been back and forth. I did some of the designs during the fall semester,” Burgess said.
    Not to mention, there’s also the laundry list of rules to follow.
    “The judges look at the frame and safety equipment,” Burgess said. “The rule book is probably a thousand pages long on how to make the frame and the requirements. We can’t modify the engine at all. They check for that in the tech inspection.”
    According to Kyle Swanton, freshman in mechanics from Missouri S&T, the rules can be muggy.

    “Just the whole challenge of creating a car that meets all the expectations is tough,” Swanton said. “The rules aren’t the clearest but we try.”
    But for everyone, the exciting part was the competition.
    “It’s been really well-organized. It’s exciting watching everyone doing their last- minute checks,” Swanton said.
    “We just want to have a great race,” Burgess said. In El Paso (Texas) we got knocked out but were able to fix it. It was a month ago. We learned a lot and been able to strengthen the design on our car.”
    Baja SAE concluded with the rigorous Honda Endurance Event, which was held on a course designed and built by PSU east of the Bicknell Sports Complex.
    The overall winner of the entire Baja SAE event is the team that performs well in all aspects of the competition. First place went to Centro Universitario Da FEI. The University of Michigan finished second while Iowa State took third with the Briggs & Stratton Overall Award.
    The winner of the Polaris Design Award was Centro Universitario Da FEI while Eecola Politecnica da Univ de Sao Paulo won the Sales Presentation Award.
    The Honda Endurance Award went to Iowa State University and Cornell University on the Honda R&D Overall Dynamics Award. Ecole De Technologie Superieure was second and Iowa State was third.
    “Overall, it was a great event,” assistant professor and event organizer Trent Lindbloom said. “We have heard very positive things from SAE and the teams. From the beginning, the event was designed to test the students to the limit.”

  • Progress continues

    Overman turns dirt on namesake’s expansion

    | Marcus Clem editor in chief |

    Many recent Pittsburg State construction projects started with a ceremonial groundbreaking, except these events mostly “broke ground” indoors on the John Lance Arena’s wooden gym floor.
    Finally, for the centerpiece student life destination on campus, the weather cooperated. On Wednesday, April 30, a groundbreaking was held outdoors on the planned construction site of the Jack H. Overman Student Center expansion.
    The radical renovation, scheduled to be finished in 12 to 14 months, will launch the building into the 21st century, university officials say.
    It first opened its doors in 1951 and saw additions in 1963 and 1995; interior renovations to the food service area came in 2002.
    This project, says Steve Erwin, associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services, will add 31,000 square feet of floor space and renovate the same amount of existing space.
    “Our students will experience a facility unlike any in the region,” Erwin said at the event. “This groundbreaking is also special because this project was initiated and funded almost entirely by our students.”
    The complex renovation plans include a larger and renovated Crimson and Gold Ballroom; new and larger office space for Student Activities Council and Student Government Association on the main floor of the building; a larger and more diverse food service area; a relocation and resizing of the Commerce Bank branch; several new meeting areas; and an outdoor furnished gathering space.
    Beside Jack Overman himself, Steve Scott, university president, Jordan Schaper, SGA president, and Catherine Geiger, SAC president, were among those chosen to symbolize the project’s start by turning over a shovelful of dirt on site. Regent Ed McKechnie of the Kansas Board of Regents, who graduated from Pitt State in 1986, was also a participant.
    Several speakers humorously referenced the fact that many students hang out in Overman, sometimes at the expense of their coursework.
    “I didn’t spend that much time in the student center,” Scott said with a mock defensive tone of his time as a student. “I did go to class.”
    McKechnie played off of Scott’s comment in his own speech.
    “So I spent a lot of time in the student center and ended up being on the Board of Regents,” he said, emphasizing with humor the fact that the board has oversight power over Scott’s role as president, “and Steve didn’t spend any time there … So, maybe we’ll figure out how that works.”
    For complete expansion plans and more information, go to

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