‘Tell-a-vision’ contest open for entry

Tell-a-vision contest open for entry

‘Tell-a-vision’ contest open for entry

Bob Walker

It is the summer of 2015, and few pay much attention to the name change during months of transformation revealing a campus nearly prepared to hold its own among any modern university. Everything about the redesigned campus embraces a mission established decades ago by Dr. Julio Leon. With a more concise vision articulated by newly appointed President J. Doe just seven years prior, an entire community eagerly awaits the emergence of a new Missouri International University (MIU).

Athletes have been returning to campus over the past week to continue training for fall sports. Few seem to mind being housed in McCormick Hall while contractors complete the remodeling and construction of several other residence buildings. Though most rooms were remodeled during the past five years, it wasn’t until last fall that new construction began to encourage the hope held by resident students who knew that the campus master plan – when realized – would foster significant improvement in each resident’s experience of college life.

Time will tell if the design consultants did their homework. Existing rooms were remodeled first to address the immediate needs of residents. Once the capital campaign had reached a milestone where more significant changes could be funded, the second phase was introduced. Students most eagerly anticipate the completion of the consultant’s daring plan: sixty acres redeveloped with the theme of an Olympic Village. Dorms or apartment-clusters represent the following eight global regions or continents: Latin America; Africa; Eastern Asia; Australia and the South Pacific; Western Europe; the Middle-East; Russia and the Balkans; and Scandinavia. Architectural accents distinctly reflect each region, with landscaping plans matching as closely as possible for the local climate. Of particular note is the section of the Village between Western Europe and the Balkans specifically devoted to Greek life. In the design phase, consultants and residents struggled between creating replicas of historic Greek structures and keeping with more common and practical forms. Both groups trust that the outcome will be well received by the entire community.

A strong emphasis was placed on community involvement in Dr. J. Doe’s vision; and after four years of gradual growth, this falls International Festival should prove to be the best yet. Being able to locate the Festival in the resident Village will add a realistic tone to each respective culinary theme. This year should draw thousands of new visitors from throughout the four-state region, if only to take in the significant physical changes featured in recent Globe pictures. When headed toward campus from any direction on either Newman or Duquesne, commuters are greeted by the sixty-three-foot replica of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch that forms the centerpiece of the International Gateway building at the heart of campus life. Upon arrival at MIU, traffic will follow the new one-way University Circle that encircles the campus, to park in one of the many perimeter lots.

The International Gateway building (IGB) hosts all student government and functional offices. A lower-level coffee shop is packed on open-mic nights, and otherwise frequented nearly as often as the large Mac/PC lab and testing centers upstairs. The IGB is formed by two identical structures, between which a six-thousand-square-foot plaza was formed under the glass between the sixty-three foot arches at each end. The plaza has become a favorite setting for all manner of artists, with plenty of room for those lingering to eat or read while enjoying the ambiance.

So much is yet to be accomplished. With enrollment naturally increasing and the First Year program’s impact upon returning students, the Board has accelerated the next phase of the campus plan to address classroom and lab-space needs before demand grows further. MIU’s financial support continues to increase, as the community has grown comfortable with the full-disclosure approach mandated by the Board. Support is also fueled by years of continuous progress and development. A community that once held a relatively blasé attitude about the role of its local university has now rallied around a regional point of pride.

Editors Note: Bob Walker will be sponsoring the ‘Tell-a-Vision’ essay contest. Students and faculty can submit their visions for the future of Southern to be voted on, on thechartonline.com.