Texas Wesleyan University unveiled plans Wednesday for a $20.25 million university center that is billed as “the most significant capital project” at the campus in more than 100 years.
The Nick & Lou Martin University Center will be located at center of the campus. The two-story, 44,000-square-foot building will create a “hub for student life and engagement,” according to a news release. The Martin Center will also serve the community by providing meeting space, which lends to the ongoing renaissance of the Rosedale Street corridor.
Wesleyan officials have been looking at building a student center since 2005.
“It really is a significant need of the university,” Wesleyan President Frederick G. Slabach said, explaining that last year the Wesleyan board of trustees approved making the university center “the number one fundraising priority.”
This is really the most significant capital project that we have had on this campus in 100 years. Frederick G. Slabach, president of Texas Wesleyan University
The university has raised $10.9 million for the project so far. The project is expected to break ground in 2018.
“It is more than a new building — it will be the living, beating heart of our invigorated student life,” Slabach said. “A central place where students, faculty, staff, visitors and our community will come together to socialize, study and connect.”
The university center will sit between the Eunice and James L. West Library and the Canafax Clock Tower, according to the university. It will include a new student and family welcome center, food court, ballroom to accommodate 300 people, bookstore, convenience store, student spaces for organizations and study, meeting rooms and office space.
Slabach said student spaces are currently located in multiple areas across the campus. He said this plan brings student engagement together at one site.
“It will be literally in the center of the campus and it will be the heartbeat of the campus,” Slabach said.
Student engagement is key to college success, Slabach said: “Students thrive when they are fully engaged in the university.”
Making improvements at Wesleyan
The center is named in honor of Nick and Lou Martin of Fort Worth, longtime supporters of the university.
“We were honored to provide the leadership gift to get the fund raising campaign started for this important new facility at Texas Wesleyan,” said Lou Martin in a statement. “We were motivated to make this gift to encourage others close to Texas Wesleyan, and those who believe in its mission, to provide support to make this important center a reality.”
Texas Wesleyan University was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1890.
Slabach said the university center will build on the more than $23 million in campus improvements and additions made in recent years, including Wesleyan’s new entryway and clock tower. It also a part of an overall vision that features improvements by the university, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County and several other entities to the Rosedale Street corridor in east Fort Worth.
Other efforts to build student life include bringing football back to the campus. The Rams will start playing conference games in 2017.
Enhancing the student experience
The university center is welcome news to Lyndsey Bessinger, a 21-year-old senior who serves as a resident assistant in the dormitories, student orientation leader and cheerleader.
“I am very excited,” Bessinger said, joking that she is jealous that she will have graduated when the building opens.
2,600 the total number of students enrolled this fall at Texas Wesleyan
“I think it is going to be really awesome for the student organizations,” she said. “Students will have a place to meet.”
Bessinger said the center will keep students on campus and also help students expand social networks, which will boost student engagement. She said students remember the relationships they formed in campus life.
“Your student experience is made up mostly by your student life,” she said. “Student life really helps you solidify your experience on campus.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.