The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Campus construction, renovations set to update academic buildings, housing

Lovett auditorium is set for a grand opening in October 2022, after being under construction since Spring 2021. (Dionte Berry/The News)

Dionte Berry
[email protected]

The fall 2022 semester will mark the beginning and completion of multiple campus construction projects that will advance student community spaces, accessibility and on-campus living.  

Lovett Auditorium will have its grand opening during October, Curris Center construction has just kicked off and phase one of Private Public Partnership (P3) housing construction is set to be zoned off in December. 

Jason Youngblood, the director of Facilities Management, oversees all of these projects

“We’ve got several projects we’ve been working on,” Youngblood said. “Lovett will be opening this fall, we are working on a Wrather Hall makeover … the Curris Center is another big project. The first part they’ll be working on will be the old post office area, renovated to be the new student involvement area.”

Lovett Auditorium’s grand opening is set for Homecoming week on Oct. 28. The auditorium has been undergoing renovations since the spring 2021 semester. Some of the major improvements to Lovett Auditorium have been new seating, a new HVAC system under the stage, new windows and new curtain drapery. 

When Lovett Auditorium is finished, Youngblood said construction will focus on the Curris Center.

Youngblood said Lovett needed to be up and running before work on the Curris Center continued because a lot of events were relocated to the Curris Center after Lovett construction started 

Both Lovett Auditorium and the Curris Center are central to the Murray State community, and President Bob Jackson said he is excited to see them both elevated. 

“Murray State is already competitive, and this is a special place—I firmly believe that—and we are enhancing those competitive components,” Jackson said. 

Regarding all of the construction, $47 million was appropriated from the government to Murray State during the 2022 Kentucky Legislative session, and Jackson said Murray State added more money to the appropriation to make up for $60 million for campus construction.

With a deeper dive into Curris Center construction on the horizon, student life is bound to be interrupted, but Youngblood said construction will be set in phases to make sure students are able to navigate the the Curris Center

“We are not just doing everything at once. Much of it will be done at night so that we do not impact traffic,” Youngblood said. “We’ll break that down into half at a time to where you can walk on this half while they’re renovating one half [of] the corridor and then split it up, and there may be times where students have to take alternative routes.”

In regards to construction impacting the flow of student life, Jackson said these impacts are not happening without reason. 

“Yes, it’s going to impact parking, or it may burden us a bit in regard to how we get around in the Curris Center,” Jackson said. “Over the next 12 to 24 months, there’s going to be great enhancements made to this campus, and basically every building on this campus, for the most part, will be touched with this money in some form or fashion for improvement purposes.” 

Along with total reflooring there will be minor renovations to the front doors and windows of the Bookstore, exterior renovations to the elevators to hide the inner workings and the inclusion of more student spaces. 

 Beyond the Curris Center, another project on the horizon is the P3 housing construction project. 

Over the summer, Springer Residential College was razed to make way for the new dining hall, and the green space across from Hart College will make way for two new residential colleges. 

Youngblood said the projects would not begin until December 2022 to minimize the impact construction will already have on student life. 

Micheal Arnal-Brown, a junior mathematics major who has been a student on the P3 committee, said he’s  excited for the project to begin.

“I believe this will bring our already nationally accredited campus to the next level,” Arnal-Brown said. “It will bring beautiful additions to the residential college system that will offer a home-like environment while keeping our notion of affordability.”.

On the committee Arnal-Brown is tasked with representing both prospective and current students’ perspectives regarding construction plans.

Arnal-Brown said he believes revamped housing will strengthen student retention and community building.

Jackson also expressed excitement for the P3 housing plans.

“It will enhance students’ [experiences] and educational experiences,” Jackson said. “It’s positive for our faculty and staff, but most importantly, from the standpoint of recruiting, student recruiting and student retention. All of this work that I’m describing is vitally important to recruiting and retention of students.”

Along with the bigger renovations and construction projects, Mason Hall and Oakley Applied Science Building are set to have renovations in order to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore more accessible. 

Youngblood said Oakley Applied Science has small bathroom doors, and Mason Hall has a wheelchair lift rather than a ramp alongside the stairs.

A current construction project that students may pass on their way to class is the National Panhellenic Plaza being built right outside of Waterfield Library. The plaza will be a monument set to commemorate the historically Black fraternities and sororities that are on campus. 

Amid all the construction Youngblood said he understands that the construction can impact students’ normal day-to-day lives.

“Be patient with us as we make changes to campus,” Youngblood said. “The more construction the better because it shows that we are making improvements on our campus.” 


More to Discover