Major changes planned at VU in coming years

2013-04-28T00:00:00Z Major changes planned at VU in coming yearsPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Valparaiso University expects to break its enrollment record in the fall, but it's a prelude to continuing growth at both its Valparaiso and Hyde Park campuses, President Mark Heckler said.

Heckler gave the council a preview of the university's 20-year master plan at Monday's council meeting. Heckler said the original plan to expand the campus east of Sturdy Road has changed. Instead, the university wants to improve the corridor between VU and the downtown.

That doesn't mean the land it owns east of Sturdy will be forgotten. Heckler said the university hopes to work with the city on development that will be mutually beneficial. The departure of Porter Hospital Valparaiso Campus and the acquisition of the site by the university has just changed the strategy.

The old hospital will be torn down over the summer, and it will take several months to clean up the site before Porter officially turns it over to VU, he said. The parking garage will remain along with the human relations and medical arts buildings and, for a time at least, the old laundry.

A major sports complex is proposed for the area, including stadium, athletic fields and indoor recreation/athletic facilities, all visible from Lincolnway. The plan is to keep McIntire Court as a residential area to preserve the historic homes, which VU intends to acquire as they become available.

"A lot of Valparaiso University history is related to that area," he said.

VU also is getting the former 3D building on the north side of Lincolnway as part of the hospital deal. Heckler said it will be torn down as soon as the money can be found to do it.

With the planned opening of the new Welcome Center on the south entrance to the campus planned for next month, Heckler said it's expected some visitors will see it and assume it's a city facility. For that reason, he plans to work with the Valpo Chamber to have material available about the city to give to visitors.

Groundbreaking for a new residence hall will be held in late summer along the north entrance. Heckler said it will have 288 beds and be available to this year's freshman class when they become sophomores in the fall of 2014. The Gothic style structure will be used for other new residence halls planned in the same area.

To make way for the residence hall, the university health center will move to the new commercial space on the first level of the University Promenade development on University Drive, and the Confucius Center will move to Finch Court.

Construction continues to boom on campus with plans to add to the Chapel of the Resurrection and erect the first of the STEEM (science, technology, engineering, education and math) buildings, a science building with wet labs and facilities for chemistry and other disciplines.

Heckler said the plans calls for pushing all parking, except for visitors and employees, to the perimeter and remote parking areas, including a proposed garage on the 3D site, and turn the grounds into a walking campus with pathways connecting all the buildings. Plenty of open space and landscaping are proposed.

All the changes should make the campus attractive and attracting to a projected 200 additional students a year with a goal of 6,000, he said.

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166 Lincolnway Valparaiso, IN 46383
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