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Garrett Center makeover will add new technology and storytelling

The Garrett Center in August while new stairs leading up to the building were being installed. Photo by Anthony Landahl

A two-phase development and facilities upgrade project is underway for the Romeo B. Garrett Center, which will give the building a more modern look, according to Norris Chase, the director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) which is located on the second floor of the building.

In a June 5 email to the university, president Stephen Standifird vowed to make upgrades to the building to reflect a more inclusive and diverse campus environment.

According to Chase, phase one of the project comprises exterior aspects, including new stairs leading up to the building and a flat grass landscape on the side of it. The other facet of phase one is the first-floor interior, which is currently under construction.

Chase said the walls have been painted and a new carpet, speaker system and TVs have been installed on the first floor, where student groups frequently hold events. New doors are expected to be installed later this fall.

The foyer area will be dedicated to an informative space telling about the life and legacy of Dr. Romeo B. Garrett, the first African American professor at Bradley. The details of the foyer are not finalized, but Chase said it will feature photos of Garrett and a timeline of his life encompassing where he came from, his education and his time at Bradley.

The completion of phase one is expected by the end of the semester, according to Chase.

“It’s exciting to have an updated space like that,” Chase said. “For students to have space for him to be celebrated, to learn about him, but more importantly walking through the building and not feeling like a church from the ’70s. That’s progress.”

Phase two of the project will surround the second floor ODI offices and include similar lighting and paint upgrades as the first floor. Chase said the office is still open throughout the construction process for students who have individual appointments.

Completion for phase two is slated for 2021. The building will also have a space to highlight multicultural and Black Greek organizations.

Chase said that the major focus is amplifying Garrett’s life story, but also working with student affairs, campus facilities and university marketing to establish a new characteristic of Bradley’s brand.

“This is not just a space on the peripheral of campus,” Chase said. “It’s not just space where the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is. This is a landmark, a university artifact to have great historical meaning beyond what we currently highlight about it.”

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