Rogers State University Foundation Board members, private donors, as well as faculty, staff and students gathered Tuesday for the ground breaking of a new dining hall set to open in the fall of 2014.
The public event was scheduled after OU Board of Regents approved last week the $4.9 million project.
The project is being funded through donations, university funds and proceeds from revenue bonds issued through the Oklahoma Finance Development Authority.
More than $2.5 million came through private donations, including $1 million from the H.A. and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trust.
“RSU continues to be transformed,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “Transformed by leadership from our RSU Foundation Board, private donors and the government of OU Board of Regents. They have been so generous with their resources and time.”
In addition, the Oklahoma Military Academy (OMA) donated $150,000 for the new facility.
Rice said the dining hall did not come about by accident.
“We sent students out along with Sodexo Foods, faculty and staff to area universities and they came back with a design for the facility.”
The new dining hall will be able to serve nearly 1,000 students and will also include a natural gas-powered generator for back up.
“We’ll be able to accommodate all of our on-campus students,” he said.
Vice Chair of OU Board of Regents Tom Clark said he sees RSU as quite a different world than when he first came to the board in 2001. “When I first started more than 10 years ago, the campus seemed to be run down but with the help of RSU’s two past presidents and this whole team, it has completely turned around,” said Clark.
The university currently has about 500 students living on campus, with plans to add another approximately 250 campus beds.
With more students on campus, the greater need for more dining facilities. The new dining hall will offer expanded menu options in a more conveniently located setting, adjacent to the University Village student apartment complexes.
Key Construction of Tulsa will be the selected firm for development of the design-build project. The design team includes Phillips Slaughter Rose and Martin Engineering Design, both of Tulsa.
“We are truly honored to be a very small part of the Hillcat family,” said Key Construction’s Vice President of Operations Tim Sortere. “RSU’s team is firm but fair and I have noticed everything is about the students. That is so refreshing in this time.”
Sortere said to see the dynamic changes that have occurred, makes his heart race a little.
President of RSU’s Student Government Association Phillip Jackson had a similar reaction when he was first told about the new dining hall project.
“It’s encouraging for me as a student to see that there are people who continue to give back to RSU and are excited in the direction that we’re going,” said Jackson. “The RSU Foundation Board and students had a vision and they pursued it.”