Western Kentucky University on Monday celebrated the $10 million renovation and expansion of the Preston Health and Activities Center, one of four separate facility dedications set for this week, representing nearly $20 million in construction, renovation and preservation projects.
Beginning with Monday’s Preston Center dedication - which includes a new 14,000-square-foot fitness facility - university officials on Friday will unveil the new $1.8 million Chandler Memorial Chapel on College Heights Boulevard.
Celebrations will be held Saturday for both the $6.8 million renovation to Science and Technology Hall, which will be renamed College High Hall, and the Orberson Baseball Clubhouse, a project that includes construction of an $800,000 clubhouse and supporting athletic facilities.
“This is a big week for the campus with the dedication of four distinctly different projects,” WKU President Gary Ransdell said. “They cut across the campus spectrum - academics, student life, athletics and faith.”
Gifts paid for the Chandler Memorial Chapel and the Orberson Baseball Clubhouse; student fees paid for College High Hall, to house the Mathematics Department, and the Preston Center addition.
“This is a testament to the strength of our alumni support and our resolve to insure a high quality of intellectual, physical and cultural life on the WKU campus,” Ransdell added. “There are many ways to become a leading American university, but the physical place must measure up and we must find ways to do so when state funding is lean.”
The Preston building project includes upgrades to all buildings’ operating lights, sound and security systems, as well as overhauls of the swimming facilities, locker rooms, health and fitness lab, administrative offices, multipurpose room and dance studio. Sustainable features have been incorporated in many areas of the project, with plans at a later date to turn exercise into electricity by retrofitting fitness machines with ReRev equipment.
The Chandler Memorial Chapel, built with private gifts from 90 individual donors, also includes a WKU columbarium - a final resting place for ashes of WKU alumni and friends. Several niches are built in the chapel and adjacent grounds and are being sold. An additional $300,000 was raised for enhancements and endowment to support maintenance and preservation.
David Chandler, of Bowling Green, who made a lead gift to begin the program, said the chapel will add an important element to WKU. Chandler said he hopes the chapel will provide a place of solitude for faculty, staff and the student body. Bob and Norma Jean Kirby, of Bowling Green, among others, also financially supported the project.
An owner’s ashes will be permanently sealed in an urn in each personally identified niche. A “Memorial Wall” also will be available to honor benefactors and remember those people interred elsewhere but who wish to be remembered at WKU.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, the university will rename Science and Technology Hall as College High Hall in honor of the building’s history. College High Hall houses the Mathematics Department and the Ogden College of Science and Engineering dean’s office.
Originally completed in 1925, the building was known as College High Hall and housed a training school until 1970, when it was closed and renovated in 1972. The building is among the oldest on campus.
Dedication of the Orberson Baseball Clubhouse will follow at noon.
Former WKU baseball player Paul Orberson made the lead gift of $500,000 toward construction of the clubhouse, which will be named for him. Located next to Nick Denes Field, the clubhouse is linked to the indoor batting facility that allows for WKU coaches, student-athletes, trainers and program support personnel to be housed on the site.