Topeka, Kan. – Creating the region’s premier student learning environment is the focus of Washburn University’s new campus vision. University leaders unveiled a seven-year plan at the Washburn Board of Regents meeting March 23.
“A space study, completed early last year, identified ways to improve our campus, modernize the student’s learning experience, enhance the working environment for faculty and staff and prepare Washburn for the future of higher education. Every dollar spent in this plan puts students first. Washburn and our community can wholeheartedly support and be proud of what this means for best serving our students,” said Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek, president, Washburn University.
Construction of a new Washburn University School of Law, scheduled to open in the summer, is the catalyst for other building projects on campus. The current law school building, 1731 Plass Ave., will be renovated to house the Student Success Center, Washburn Libraries, leadership and honors programs as well as the department of education. Carnegie Hall, the oldest building on campus, will be repurposed once the education department moves to its new home.
“Every undergraduate on campus will learn in the facility at 1731 Plass so this is an important investment that will impact all students,” said Dr. Laura Stephenson, interim vice president of academic affairs, Washburn University. “In addition, this renovation allows us to transform the current building housing Mabee Library into a modern healthcare education facility that will bring together our signature nursing and allied health programs, along with Washburn Tech’s healthcare programs including emergency medical technician (EMT), surgical technology and practical nursing.”
Significant changes are also planned for Henderson Learning Resources Center, the largest and most utilized classroom building on campus, with major renovations and modernization of learning and gathering spaces for students and faculty. Henderson is the primary home to the School of Business and many College of Arts and Sciences departments.
A new recital hall will connect to the northern edge of White Concert Hall to provide a smaller, more intimate artistic setting. Upgrades are planned for Lee Arena, home to graduation celebrations and our basketball and volleyball programs. Nearby metal buildings that house Facilities Services will be removed to make way for more green space, including a pavilion and gathering space for students, alumni and community members. Facilities Services will move to the southeast corner of 21st and Washburn Ave., property that Washburn currently occupies.
A new Manufacturing Institute is in the planning stages for Washburn University Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech). Renovated facilities will house programs such as advanced systems technology, machine/tool technology and welding technology, providing more room and additional learning opportunities for technical training.
The plan includes the removal of several buildings to provide better accessibility and improve the overall learning and working environment. Enhancing the workspaces of Washburn faculty and staff will be a constant goal throughout the plan’s implementation. A new president’s residence will be built on the northwestern edge of campus thanks to a donor’s generous gift.
Funding for these projects will come from several sources including Washburn reserves, debt financing, university donors and State of Kansas grants. A timeline and comprehensive budget for this multi-year plan has yet to be finalized although Mazachek projects a seven-year window.
Washburn leadership will host several town hall meetings on campus to share ideas and receive additional input from students, faculty and staff. Support from alumni and local business leaders also will be key to moving Washburn forward.
“Growth is our top priority at Washburn and research shows prospective students choose a particular university based on the look and feel of campus. It is more important than ever,” Mazachek said. “As the higher education landscape changes, Washburn’s landscape will change, too, and provide the best campus learning experience for all students.”