The programs and services at Kansas University's Multicultural Resource Center have expanded so much over the last decade that the center is looking for room to grow.
Planning is under way to build a new and expanded center within the next year. The facility will be 7,000 square feet and added to the fourth floor of the Kansas Union. A site dedication ceremony took place in the spring. The center is scheduled to be complete by fall 2006.
"We're still finalizing the designs," said Santos Nunez, the center's director. "Once we've gotten approval, we'll move forward with construction and groundbreaking."
No timeline has been set for groundbreaking, she said.
The center got its start at KU in 1995. It offers tutoring and classroom programs, as well as a host of services to expand KU students' understanding of cultural issues - "diversity discussions" on Wednesdays, the fall Colors of KU diversity retreat and other offerings.
"It helps students broaden their multicultural education," Nunez said. "We're living in an increasingly global society, and having a multicultural education is increasingly valuable for students as they go out into the real world."
During the 2004-05 school year, the existing center hosted more than 7,000 visits from students.
"We have outgrown our current facility," Nunez said. "We do have a need to have a bigger and more up-to-date facility, because our numbers have grown in the KU students who are using our resources."
The new center, she said, will "be able to offer more space for academic programs. We'll have more space for our tutoring program."
The new center will cost $2.7 million - $200,000 from university funds, $1.5 million from student fees and $1 million from the Sabatini Family Foundation, which includes relatives of Frank C. Sabatini, who received degrees from KU in 1955 and 1957. He is a former state representative and member of the Kansas Board of Regents; he is chairman emeritus of Capital City Bank in Topeka, where he and his wife, Judith, live.
Frank Sabatini's son, Dan, said in February the family hoped the gift would foster diversity at KU. He said it also reflected the experiences of his father's family, who came to the United States in 1930 from Italy to escape economic recession and seek better opportunities.
"My grandparents certainly weren't in the majority when they arrived in the United States, and there was a lot of discrimination toward Italian Catholics at the time," he said. "We felt like this gift was a good opportunity to support minorities in the United States and believe that it is vital to have continuing immigration and diversity in our culture."
The new center will be larger, more visible and more accessible than the current MRC, which is near the Military Science Building in what was designed to be a temporary structure.