Students to help design DUC renovations

Caitlin Carter

Parts of Downing University Center recently received a facelift with renovations to its auditorium and roof, but soon, the building could experience an entire makeover.

Officials are moving forward on a plan to completely renovate DUC, said Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design and Construction. The project, funded partially through agency bonds, will cost up to $49 million.


Beginning next fall, students would pay about $140 extra per year in fees, for a period of up to 20 years, to help fund the project, Russell said.

At Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting, President Gary Ransdell and Head Architect Jeff Stivers said SGA and students campus-wide will play an important role in DUC’s renovation, not only in terms of funding.

“Students will be involved in every decision and directly engaged in the project,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell said members of SGA will have the option to go to other university’s student centers to get ideas for improving DUC.

SGA must make resolutions for the design and the appropriate fees and have them approved by the Board of Regents on Jan. 21 before the project can begin, though, SGA President Colton Jessie said.

Stivers, an architect from RossTarrant Architects in Lexington, said his company is partnering with Mackey Mitchell Architects in St. Louis.

Both companies have a lot of experience in building student centers for universities, Stivers said.

Meetings and forums will be arranged for the WKU community to discuss what is wanted and needed in the improved DUC, Stivers said.

Stivers said he thinks beneficial suggestions would include a 24-hour study space, an entirely redesigned fourth floor and more room for student activities.

This project is quite an undertaking for WKU, but it will give students, faculty and alumni an overall better experience, Jessie said.

“It will mean that there’s going to be a little bit of chaos at first,” Jessie said. “But the project will be completed in phases, which will help out.”

Stivers said this construction project gives SGA and others the chance to make change and “build a legacy.”

And Jessie said he is ready to see this change.

“I think we can all pretty much agree that DUC is overdue for a renovation,” Jessie said. “It’s been 40 years since it’s been opened, and it definitely screams 1970.”