STORM LAKE, Iowa | A $15 million renovation is coming for a prominent part of the Buena Vista University campus that is more than 30 years old.
The Buena Vista University Trustees have approved a $15.1 million renovation of the Harold Walter Siebens School of Business/Siebens Forum. Construction will start in May 2018 and completion is expected by December, according to a Wednesday university release.
BVU President Joshua Merchant called it a "momentous" project to advance early in his presidency.
"We greatly appreciate all of the donors who have made the forum renovation possible and who believe in the future of BVU," Merchant said.
"The focus of the renovation is to create a space that is more student focused, by providing lounges, modern classrooms, accessible resources, and a stronger sense of BVU spirit."
The Harold Walter Siebens School of Business/Siebens Forum was originally built in 1985.
Dale Scully, BVU vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said the overall result is that students and visitors will notice a brighter, fresher appearance with enhanced natural lighting, plus views of the campus outside of the Siebens building.
College officials said the renovation, in discussion since early 2017, will be a major factor in helping BVU meet or exceed short-term and long-term student enrollment goals.
"New buildings and significant renovations almost always create excitement among current and prospective students," Vice President for Enrollment Management Mike Frantz said.
"By coincidence or not, we saw enrollment spikes when the forum was opened, the library was built, Pierce/White was renovated, and when the Science Center opened its doors.
The modernization of the Siebens building will change the dining experience for students, with modular seating added to the new dining area, plus a wider variety of table groupings.
The second phase of the project will create an area solely dedicated to external group meetings and conferencing space. A renovated retail space for the campus bookstore has also been proposed. An elevator will be added at the east entrance.
"I'm excited about the sense of community that this new project is going to bring to the BVU campus. Students will truly feel like they have ownership of a functional and modern student center," Scully said.
A fundraising campaign began in early 2017. BVU officials have long sought to make campus additions via philanthropic resources, to avoid having costs for such substantial projects passed along to students and parents.