by Heidi Massey | Staff Writer
Whitworth is preparing for several campus improvements, including renovations to the aquatics center and Cowles Auditorium, and the building of a new Athletic Leadership Center. Still in the visioning stage are ideas such as creating a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) lab, and building a restaurant on Hawthorne Road.
In addition, Whitworth faculty recently approved the creation of a doctor of physical therapy program, and will be asked to approve a postgraduate occupational therapy program in the next three months. The introduction of these programs will result in the addition of a new health science building.
According to Larry Probus,Vice President of Finance and Administration, Whitworth has three options for adding a health science building. These options include constructing an entirely new building on campus, leasing space in the University District downtown, or purchasing a former medical clinic building on Country Homes Boulevard. In the spring, Whitworth administrators and faculty will formally decide how to best move forward with this project.
Renovations to the aquatics center will take place when swim season is over in March, with a goal of finishing the project in August 2019. These renovations are being made possible in part by a donor, whose request was to create more natural lighting in the center by adding windows. The aquatics center will also experience improvements to its HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. Chris Eichorst, the Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services, said these upgrades in air circulation need to be made for the safety of swimmers.
“When [swimmers] are working out there, sweating and breathing hard, it really stirs up the chlorinated water,” he said. “That mixes with sweat from swimmers, and creates chloramines that sit on top of the water.
To solve this issue, an evacuator system will be installed, which will essentially vacuum air off the surface of the water to be treated.
Later in the year, in May of 2019, improvements to Cowles Auditorium will begin. The south end of the building will be renovated, which will both change the look of the exterior of the building and expand storage space. The theater’s rigging system will also be repaired, and a shop for constructing sets will be added to the building. Currently, a temporary rigging system is in place, which does not allow for moving scenery and certain lighting features.
Maria Sorce, the Theatre Technical Director and Auditorium Events Manager, said, “I am most excited for the ability to use the stage as a stage again, to having lighting positions, to hang and focus lighting instruments over the stage.”
This project will be finished by January 2020, and that year’s spring convocation will be held in the newly renovated building.
Construction of the Athletic Leadership Center, which will be located near the tennis courts, will begin in the spring of 2019, when the ground thaws.This building will house offices for athletic coaches, and will feature a locker room for football players in its lower level.
Tim Demant, Whitworth’s Director of Athletics, looks forward to having all of Whitworth’s coaches in the same building.
“I think we have a great team that works really well together and can learn from each other. Unfortunately, I don’t see them most days, so the opportunity to spend more time with them, even just a simple thing like having lunch with someone, will be very beneficial,” Demant said.
Demant also said the Athletic Leadership Center will give the athletics program a “front door,” which will make coaches more accessible and aid in recruiting.
To learn more about Whitworth facilities, visit www.whitworth.edu/cms/administration/facilities-services/.