Ottawa The $5 million improvement project must be approved by the university's board of trustees, which has been working with administrators to shape the plan.
Ottawa University is planning $5 million worth of improvements to its dormitories and sports facilities, school president Harold Germer said Wednesday.
Germer announced the proposed upgrades to a crowd of students and university workers from the front steps of Martin Hall, a former women's residence hall that has been closed since 1993 because of its various inadequacies.
Martin Hall, a three-story, limestone edifice built in 1947, will be the first structure renovated, if the plan is approved as expected next week by the university's board of trustees. Germer said the board's executive committee has been closely involved in planning the improvements the past seven months and supports the endeavor.
``There are certain moments in an institution's history that are singularly important,'' Germer said. ``I think this is one for us.''
Germer said the plan is to create mini-apartments or suites on two floors of Martin Hall to accommodate visiting professors and students from the school's various far-flung locations.
Ottawa University has centers in Kansas City, Phoenix, Milwaukee and three countries on the Asian Pacific rim.
After Martin Hall is remodeled, Germer said, $2 million will be spent improving the school's athletic facilities.
``Right behind Martin Hall is the refurbishing of the Wilson Fieldhouse and the Mabee Center. A lot of it will involve internal systems, heating and cooling and walls.''
School spokesman Tracy Campbell said trustees also will consider a new building to replace Price Hall, a men's dormitory.
The building improvements will be taken up by trustees as part of their consideration of a new strategic plan for the four-year liberal arts college.
Germer said of equal importance are the college's plans to improve academic programs, especially in the areas of human services, business management and education.
``Bricks and mortar are always obvious and always important improvements,'' he said, ``but that's only a piece of the plan.''
On the academic front, Germer said, plans are under way to increase ``experiential learning'' by students in the forms of internships, volunteer work and close involvement of nonacademic professionals in course assessment.
Germer said the plan also calls for greater use of technology in linking the school's various centers around the nation and globe.
``Technology provides us the opportunity to overcome the limitations of space and distance,'' Germer said. ``We already have a fiber-optic backbone that services the whole campus.''
Germer said the improved technical links would allow teachers from the school's centers in Milwaukee, Phoenix or elsewhere to teach or assist teaching classes at the Ottawa campus.
-- Mike Shields' phone message number is 832-7144. His e-mail address is email@example.com.