Jessica Johnson, Contributing Writer
Over the summer, the University of Dallas implemented an extensive series of campus renovations and rearrangements, the bulk of which affected J.M. Haggar University Center and the offices it houses.
The Haggar University Center, which was built in 1975, financed by a donation from the Haggar Foundation, received its facelift as part of the $7 million campus improvements package under President Keefe’s administration. A major donor to the project was The Constantin Foundation, which was founded by Eugene and Ruth Constantin in 1947 and has funded such endeavors as the endowment for the Constantin College of Liberal Arts and the Eugene Constantin Rome Campus.
“Haggar received a lot of attention this summer because it’s the school’s primary non-academic building and a busy center of student activity: dining; programming such as TGIT in the Rat; the Bookstore; the Cap Bar; Student Government and SPUD; and general hanging out,” Associate Vice President for Administration Patrick Daly said. “It seems more people pass through Haggar on a daily basis than any other building, except perhaps Braniff.
The improvements to Haggar are evident as soon as one walks through the doors to Haggar Foyer. A fresh coat of paint adorns the south wall, as well as artwork from the Matrix program of the art department. New couches and tables are arranged in the foyer, and the floor and window treatments in the Cap Bar have been replaced.
“I like the updated artwork in Haggar Foyer,” sophomore Alex Doucet said. “I remember as I was looking at Facebook pictures from last semester, I realized what a difference there was, and it struck me how much of an improvement was made.”
Changes are not limited to the aesthetic, however; a number of university offices have changed locations in order to provide a centralized Campus Visit Center.
“The Admissions Visitor Center was moved to Haggar so that visiting high school students and their parents would have a more positive first impression of the university than they would with Carpenter Hall,” Daly said. “When visitors enter Haggar they immediately get a sense of campus life at UD, something they wouldn’t get in Carpenter.”
The Office of Student Life and the music department have now taken the place of the Office of Admissions in Carpenter Hall, and the Student Activities and Leadership Center has been moved to the former music department.
While all of these departmental changes will have an effect on students’ daily routines, one area of Haggar that is central for many students also received updates: the Haggar Café.
Although the number of students on a meal plan has increased from 400 to 700 students since the original construction of the cafeteria, no improvements have been made in the last 35 years.
The facilities “didn’t meet the needs of our current student population,” Daly said.
Therefore, in the fall of 2011, a committee was formed that included Daly, Student Government Representative Cierra Houchins, and Food Service Manager Darren St. Romain. Construction on the main kitchen and serving line began immediately after graduation ceremonies on May 13. Houchins, who was responsible for communicating students’ wishes to the administration, was pleased with the results of the project.
“It reflects well on the school to have a nice dining facility,” she said.
Student responses to the new Haggar Café have been mixed.
Sophomore Mike McDermott claimed, “We as a student body appreciate having a nice-looking cafeteria, and we appreciate the good intentions of the university behind it. The new setup is something that we will have to learn to adapt to.”
The new serving line system has perhaps been the biggest change to which students have had to adapt: Students can no longer serve themselves at any of the stations. Junior Aaron Stolle believes that this is what causes long lines during the lunch period.
“It takes less time to be served, but waiting in line takes forever,” Stolle said.
He has also heard several students complain that they have been unable to eat breakfast before 8 a.m. classes because some days the cafeteria is not ready to serve until 7:45. Some students, such as sophomores Elizabeth Wolfe and Curtis Walter also said they would like to see the return of such favorites as toasted sandwiches and the self-serve salad bar. Despite service being slow at times and fewer self-serve options, all students seem to agree that the cafeteria looks great.
There were more changes still. All-new energy-efficient appliances were purchased for the kitchen, and the basement prep kitchen and storage area were remodeled. UD Custodial Services received improvements, and, due to the city code requirements for such a large project, all restrooms in Haggar are now in accord with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines.
Summer improvement projects did not stop at Haggar. Several “smart classrooms” have been added to the campus, and new glass study rooms have been added to the third floor of the library. The student apartments all received a much-needed coat of paint as well as some structural repairs; additionally, there is now a sidewalk around the apartment complex.
Included in the campus improvements package are the walkway to the DART stop on the north side of Texas State Highway 114 and remodeled campus entrances; entrances along 114 in particular are equipped with turn lanes and clearer signs.
Although Daly says that renovations in Haggar are complete for now, other projects still in the fundraising stage include building a more attractive walkway from the pond behind Madonna Hall to the center of campus – making it easier for students to access the DART – and brick entry-ways to the university along Northgate. Brick used for the entry-ways will be the same as the existing brick in Braniff, tying together the two ends of the university.
As Daly explained, “We’re looking for ways to give the university more identity.”