Union renovations back on track

Ben Peyton / Senior Staff Writer

The process of renovating and expanding the University Union is moving forward after The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the project at a meeting on Jan. 24.

The Union renovation and expansion plan was first disapproved by the THECB in October because some of the renovation costs needed more explanations, said the Director of University Union Zane Reif.

The new Union will be sustainable and targeted to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

It will also feature a student organization center and increased options and size at the dining facility, Reif said.

“The University Union is a critical tool for making the educational process more effective,” said university spokesperson Kelly Reese.

In the October survey, more than 2,000 students and 54 percent voted in favor of a new student fee of $115 per semester to support the project with the tuition increase beginning in Fall 2014.

“A student’s level of involvement in campus life and student organizations – academic, cultural, service and social – has an incredibly high correlation to their success,” Reese said.

The Union has also accumulated $8,000 it has saved for the new renovations and expansion.

“The new financing plan adjusts the funding sources so that other local funds will support an increased portion of the debt, meaning the debt supported by student fee revenue is reduced by almost $10 million,” said President V. Lane Rawlins in a message to the THECB.

Rawlins also said in a message to the THECB that the process of expanding and renovating the Student Union was long overdue and much needed.

The amount of students at UNT has more than doubled since the current union, which was intended to serve a campus of about 17,000 students and was built in the 70s.

Designs still need to be finalized and once the Church of Christ is demolished, the departments in Scoular and Stovall hall will move into the church’s old location, Reif said.

The estimated two-year process of expanding and renovating the Union will begin in June.

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