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Campus landscape continues to change with construction

Sorority+members+are+expected+to+move+in+January+2024.+Photo+by+Kolton+Maturey+%2F+Antelope+Staff
Sorority members are expected to move in January 2024. Photo by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff

The landscape of UNK has continued changing over the summer with five construction projects underway. Students and staff can expect more temporary working spaces this school year as these projects continue.

Calvin T. Ryan Library will soon enter its next phase of renovations, still with the intention of keeping a portion open for students. 

“The most challenging thing that we will have to do is close the main entrance on the east side,” said Evan Boyd, dean of the library. “A new temporary entrance will be created with ramp access from the north side of the building.”

Temporarily closing the main entrance is the first of three transitional phases needed for the library’s completion. 

“Demolition for phase two will happen in October,” said Greg Christen, project manager for the university system. “We will move the book collection from the basement to the second floor and start renovations on the basement.”

Phase three is set to begin in December.  

“We will move the first-floor items from the west side to the east side,” Christen said. “The spaces that are in the west half of the building on the first floor will be open along with a new west entrance. This will allow construction on the east areas.”

Students can expect library completion during the summer of 2024, with full facilities open for the school year. 

The Communication Department, which is housed in the library, can expect an earlier return to the library. Professors and communication classes were uprooted during the renovations and relocated into former fraternity housing.

“Due to the poor condition that University Residence North and South are in, the current plan is for the communication and Learning Commons folks to come back into the library starting in January,” Boyd said. “However, many professors will not be in their permanent offices; there will be a temporary space until project completion. Only two of the three classrooms in the communication department will be available, but both computer labs will be accessible.”

Sororities on campus, still housed in URN and URS, can also expect an escape from these conditions in January. 

“The construction work is looking to be done around October or November,” Christen said. “As soon as the contractor turns it over to the university, we’ll start moving furniture in, facilities will take some time to make sure all the mechanical equipment is up and running, and we will get some additional time to stage the building before we move the sororities in for the spring semester.”

The still-unnamed sorority housing has maintained a strict schedule after the original delay that pushed move-in to the spring semester. Each chapter is eager for the move into an updated facility.

“We are most looking forward to having all of the chapters close together in one building, where in the pods we are split up and spread apart,” said Kayla Nunnenkamp, president of Gamma Phi Beta. “Also, we are excited to be closer to the Student Union and other buildings on campus. And of course, a brand new building is really exciting.”

The west edge of campus is also expanding, with plans slowly coming along on the Rural Health Education Building. UNK partnered with UNMC to expand opportunities for students to practice health care in rural Nebraska.

“We are starting to wrap up the design process and looking at some minor demolition work at a site adjacent to the Rural Health Education Building,” Christen said. “Eventually that space will become parking for the increased capacity.”

The site work on the building itself will start in the next few months, with a rough estimate of completion sometime in 2025-26 school year.

The last improvement on campus is at Warner Hall, which consists of administrative offices and departments that have been relocated to several buildings across campus. 

“Although Warner doesn’t directly affect students from an education standpoint, obviously there’s a lot of student services that are in that building,” Christen said. “I know they’re thinking carefully about what that transition looks like and how to move back for those occupants.”

The return date to Warner Hall is unclear, but original estimations set the anticipated completion to January or February 2024.

The University will have a big year of improvements in 2024.

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