Preschoolers help break ground on GSU's first student housing complex

2013-04-26T00:00:00Z Preschoolers help break ground on GSU's first student housing complexFor The Times nwitimes.com
April 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

UNIVERSITY PARK | Under bright spring skies, Governors State University  recently celebrated the official launch of its first student housing at a groundbreaking ceremony that drew students, faculty, staff and community leaders.

At the groundbreaking site, 19 3- and 4-year-olds from GSU’s Family Development Center donned hard hats and wielded miniature shovels as a solid, very real representation of the day’s theme, “Building for the Future.”

Prairie Place, GSU’s first student residential complex, will open in summer 2014. Prairie Place will be built in three phases; the first building will have 77 suite-style and apartment units, with a total of 296 beds. The complex will be open to GSU students — freshmen through doctoral students — and is being designed as a living-learning community that will add to their educational experience.

GSU President Elaine P. Maimon said the housing complex will be located “where the prairie meets the city,” and that its residents will benefit by living within GSU’s nationally renowned Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. Maimon pointed out that following a visit to the sculpture park, Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for the New Yorker magazine, wrote that GSU is “where the prairie meets city.”

“They will be living in art, immersed in art,” she said. “What an amazing experience for our students.” Living at Prairie Place, she said, will enhance students’ learning experiences at GSU. “Students won’t just be living at Prairie Place. They will also be learning valuable lessons about civic engagement, sustainability and global citizenship.”

Maimon was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by members of the GSU board of trustees and other university officials, former GSU President Stuart Fagan, state Sen. Michael Hastings, state Sen. Anthony DeLuca, Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie Neely, University Park Mayor Vivian Covington, Richton Park Village President Rick Reinbold and Park Forest Mayor John Ostenburg.

Jack Beaupre, chair of the university’s board of trustees, said it was a “great day for a celebration at GSU.” He congratulated Maimon and GSU’s administration for their leadership during difficult times in higher education in America.

“It gives me great pleasure to point out to the world what we are doing at GSU,” Beaupre said. “We are going to be a great university.”

Covington praised GSU for its strong partnership with her community. “This is the most amazing day I can imagine,” she said. “I cannot thank you enough for making us a university town. Together, we will grow, educate and prosper.”

Prairie Place is being funded through proceeds from the sale of $20 million in revenue bonds, which was completed in April 2012. GSU’s board of trustees awarded contracts for the construction project in February.

All housing units will be furnished with a bed, desk, chair and wardrobe-dresser unit. Apartment units will have fully equipped kitchens. Cable and Internet services will be available throughout Prairie Place. Additional community space will include floor lounges, study rooms, a classroom, a laundry room, vending machines, a service desk and community kitchens.

Trained resident assistants will live on each floor to provide student support and assistance. Social, recreational and informal educational activities are planned to enhance the living-learning experience for GSU’s first on-campus residents.

Prairie Place is one of several major initiatives bringing significant change to GSU in 2014. The university will admit its first freshman class in fall 2014. GSU’s first class in 2014 will consist of 270 daytime full-time freshman students. Next year, GSU will also continue to add academic programs and extend its recruiting efforts around the globe.

These important steps will make 2014 a landmark year for GSU, enabling the university to broaden its reach and solidify its commitment to inspiring hope, realizing dreams, and strengthening community for generations to come.

More information on Prairie Place is available at www.govst.edu/housing.

Governors State University is located at 1 University Parkway.

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