Written by Leslie Lube
Last week, the staff of the admissions and financial aid offices moved into the Wilhelmina Cullen Admissions building. An official grand opening will take place Feb. 21 during Family Days. This special ceremony will honor Cullen’s donation, which will cover the cost of both the construction of the new building and the renovation of the old Cullen building.
Cullen’s death this past week saddened the SU community, but the buildings that bear her name will keep her memory alive as new generations of students benefit from her generosity. Her family will attend the opening on her behalf.
“I think the new building sets a nice image,” said Monty Curtis, associate vice president of enrollment services. “We don’t want to lose our tradition. We’re proud of being the oldest university in Texas, but we also want to show people that we have modern amenities. And the green aspect [of the building’s construction] shows the kinds of things we value.”
Curtis’s statement highlights the conflicting feelings held by members of the campus community. While they appreciate progress, some students worry that recent construction will threaten SU’s natural character.
“One of the reasons I fell in love with Southwestern was its beautiful campus, full of trees and green everywhere,” said junior Diana Parra. “Personally, I feel like both the new admissions building and the building next to Brown Cody are unnecessary and destroying the campus I’ve made my home for two and a half years now. I don’t think that these buildings are a sign of progress or development, but rather a sad imposition of concrete.”
Curtis, who has worked at SU for over twenty years, has seen a lot of campus changes occur.
“I love the serenity and park-like setting of our campus, and I don’t want to lose that,” Curtis said. “We have over 700 acres of land that we own, though, which is significant compared to many other colleges. Planning is done carefully when they use green space. We must be very careful when we use resources, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use them at all. You have to have balance.”
Although they might resent new buildings taking up space on campus, students are trying to make the best of the situation.
“At first I was resistant to the new building developments, then—when I realized that my opinion didn’t really matter—I started to enjoy watching the progress,” Junior Elizabeth Ferrick said. “I’ve seen some pictures of the new admissions building and it is very pretty. I’m also glad that they have added the ramp to the other side of Mood-Bridwell to make it more accessible.”’
The new building has many important features that may in time raise student opinions of it. The designers tried to use local materials and renewable resources as much as possible. For example, the floors are made of bamboo, which is durable as well as being an easily renewable source of wood.
Other features, such as motion-sensor lighting in the offices, waterless urinals and special parking spots out front reserved for hybrid cars helped make the building eligible for LEED certification. A tour of the building will be offered before the grand opening. This is an ideal time for students and faculty to get to know the new space, but Curtis hopes this won’t be the only time that they visit.
“I appreciate the new space, but one of my big concerns is that I won’t get the traffic,” he said. “There won’t be the same need for students and faculty to be in my building. The proximity in Cullen made it easier to see people. We’ll have to find a way to encourage the campus to stop by.”