Appreciate, remember changes on campus

In less than three weeks, the school year will be over. Finals will be completed, dorms will be cleared and the graduates will be preparing to receive their diplomas. A lot can change in three weeks. But there’s a lot more than can change over the course of a year.

In next week’s issue, we will print a review of the top ten stories on campus. Looking back on it, this year has been an important one, a bridge between what’s over and what’s to come.

With the completion of the Westlake Hall restoration next fall, the Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance will be finished. It started in 2008 with the Markin Center, and also included the construction of the Renaissance Coliseum and the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center.

The senior class has seen this undertaking unfold nearly in its entirety. But the incoming freshmen may be witness to an entirely new project, one of the most massive in Bradley’s history in terms of both size and academic overhaul.

Next year, plans and fundraising will continue for the $120 million construction on the Business and Engineering Convergence Center. At 327,000 square feet, the convergence center will be nearly four times the size of the new Westlake Hall.

For the senior class, this is not the same campus they arrived on as incoming freshmen.  And what they remember most about their time at Bradley may very well be the hum of construction.

But next year, the changes extend beyond updating academic buildings. The two biggest aspects of student life, dining and housing, are in the process of changing immensely.

The food students eat every day will be entirely different, replaced by a new company for the first time in nearly 60 years.

And the dorms, which are often renovated as a band-aid solution, are finally receiving the close inspection they need.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Geisert Hall will be knocked down to make way for suite-style living; it just shows that the university is finally acknowledging that the residence, as well as campus apartment complexes and even off-campus housing areas, need more than a fresh coat of paint to attract new students and satisfy the needs of students already living there.

There will also be plenty of activity over the summer, including updating the rest of Heitz Hall rooms and renovating bathrooms in Geisert Hall.

Campus security was updated as well, making student IDs a necessity to get into residence halls and the library, regardless of the time of day. That initiative is expected to expand, possibly to key-swipe access for academic buildings.

Although these changes have been the result of many conversations and serious planning, for some it would seem that these changes are happening over night.

For returning alumni, especially those who graduated decades ago, this campus looks worlds away from the Bradley they knew. The same will be true for current students when they come back years from now. If the face of a campus can change in one year, the entire persona can change in a decade.

But for students, their job is to go to class, participate in activities, attend events and add life to the campus so that when they do visit twenty years from now, they can remember their time at Bradley as it once was, while still appreciating what it has become.

Whatever the change is, Bradley is growing, and it is important to reflect on how different campus is now than it was in August, and what it may be five years from now.