Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor
Students were not the only ones attempting to make a good first impression this week as Duquesne University underwent several structural renovations since last semester.
“Every summer the university begins work on multiple projects across campus,” said university spokesperson, Gabe Welsch. “This summer was no exception, with some renovations being more visible in highly trafficked areas.”
Duquesne’s plethora of renovations included classrooms, replaced facades, improvements to student housing buildings, suite seating in the field house and a new and improved home for the Wellness Center. The upgrades are part of a commitment to improve enrollment and maintain retention for existing students.
For senior director of design and construction Mark Minoski, the summer’s projects were the most ambitious he’s been part of so far, calling it the “busiest summer” in his 20 years at the university.
Along with new construction of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the new student apartment buildings on Forbes Avenue, Minoski oversaw many other improvements around campus.
“We got two brand new buildings, that’s a lot of capital spending right there,” Minoski said. “Plus, there’s a big push for enrollment management to make the campus look more inviting. That first impression of students and their parents for the first time is really important.”
According to Welsch, student feedback played a major role in the renovations.
“As you can imagine, these improvements are necessary but also, with our students in mind, enhance Duquesne’s campus and learning spaces and respond to student input,” Welsch said. “The Towers Lobby and Hogan Dining Center renovations are designed in direct response to students who have asked and requested a more contemporary atmosphere and feel.”
Student feedback inspired a new market in Brottier, said Welsch, along with the relocation
Welsch, along with the relocation of the Center for Student Wellbeing, which will now provide students seeking services a more discreet entrance.
The admission building is also on the tail end of its renovations. Nick Reffuge, director of campus visitor experience, is excited for the grand opening of the Welcome Center tentatively scheduled during the first week of October.
“The No. 1 goal is to figure out ways that we can enhance the experience for the students, both current and perspective, and of course their families and guest,” Reffuge said. “We expect to give a high level of customer service, which we were able to provide before, but now the upgrades allow us to take it to the next level.
The welcome center, which will be located on the main floor of the admission building will include ambient lighting, several televisions for presentation videos, couches, a seating area and workstations.
First-year students Maelynn Nicholas and Alanna Wachocki said the blended look of contemporary and traditional style on campus played a role when choosing to come to Duquesne.
“It definitely persuaded me,” Wachoncki said. “I really like all the scenery on the campus and all the green areas, but I also really like how there’s older buildings and there’s more modern buildings.”
Third-year students Elaina Ferrell and Giavanna Zampetti said they appreciate the upgrades on the Bluff.
“I think the electrical sign they put in [the union] is pretty cool,” Zampetti said. “It’s really aesthetically pleasing.”
“I like that [Duquesne] is keeping it modern and making sure they’re staying up to date with the little things,” Ferrell said. “It looks nice.”
With improvements happening to almost every major building on campus this summer, several
projects, including the Towers lobby upgrade and the Kline Law School main entry façade renovations, are still ongoing.
“The hard part is that all the schools, high schools and universities are doing the same thing,” Minoski said. “They’re trying to get the work done when the kids are off.”
Even with the supply chain issue and labor shortage, Minoski said he was pleasantly surprised at how the projects turned out.
“Things turned out better than expected,” Minoski said. “The big issue is having enough time to get them completed. You only have 12 to 13 weeks.”
The improvement to the Towers lobby, for example, was supposed to be finished before the campus move-in date but will likely not be completed for another two weeks, Minoski said.
The delay, however, did not impede Wachocki’s move.
“All the construction they kind of put on hold for moving day,” Wachocki said. “And then loaded it up after, so it didn’t really affect me too much. It was pretty manageable.”
The renovations to Towers and the Kline building are scheduled to be completed in the “next couple of weeks,” according to Minoski.
Wellness Center finds a new and improved home in Gumberg
The Wellness Center, previously located in the Student Union, has moved to the third floor of the Gumberg library.
And while the staff at the wellness center are still getting used to their new space, the director of health services, Joy Dougherty, said the relocation has been great.
“We went from a space that was not ever supposed to be a medical office to a space that we intentionally designed for a med-express,” Dougherty said. “I think that the design is working out really nicely, and we’re just getting used to the flow at this point.”
Plans to move the Wellness Center began three years ago, and while the new building gained little more square footage, the floor layout is much more convenient for the medical office.
The main clinic area is horseshoe-shaped, allowing providers, nurses and medical assistants to sit together.
“Communication is super clear and super easy,” Dougherty said. “In the old office, we were kind of looking around walls for people and now it’s much easier to communicate.”
The staff of the medical center were also able to reap some of the benefits from the center. Better lighting, an improved air system and a break room allow ambient light in the medical center, which gives the impression of a state-of-the-art medical center.
Dougherty, who has been the director for two years, said she is glad the improvements came because she believes that the medical center is one of the most essential facilities on campus.
“We keep students in class,” Dougherty said. “A lot of universities and colleges have their students leave campus to seek any medical care, and for kids without cars, kids that their parents are hours away, they really don’t have anybody to get them through these illnesses. And I think with us being here on campus, it makes life so much better for them.”