Freed-Hardeman University has taken a giant step toward realization of the master plan developed by Element Designs last spring and summer. Based upon a decision by FHU trustees to appropriate $3.4 million toward implementation of the plan, campus improvements aimed at making the campus a greener, safer, more pleasing environment for learning are underway.
"The face of the university is about to change," President Joe Wiley said. "We are investing significant monies from the Heritage Fund to do this."
The oval lawn where Bader Gymnasium once stood is currently under construction. The centerpiece of the lawn will be a rondure featuring scriptures engraved on large granite stones. They will surround a granite circle inscribed with the university's brand promise: "Where faith and reason create Christian leaders." The green will be further enhanced by a 73' clock tower at the south end of the oval. The tower will be a walk-through structure with clocks on all four faces. The historic bell which once hung in the Milan-Sitka building is being recast for the new tower. Other elements saved when Milan-Sitka was taken down, including the front arch, the cornerstone and a plaque that hung in the second-floor auditorium will also be incorporated into the new tower. The tower will be built partially with bricks saved from the building. Ellen Wadley of Fleming Architects has designed the tower. According to Dwayne Wilson, FHU executive vice president, the foundation will be poured in the next few weeks.
In addition, Gardner Center will receive a face-lift. Lobbies on all three floors will be remodeled to improve the appearance and use of the building as the university's welcome center. Plans for the new look have been developed by interior designers associated with Fleming Architects. The parking area in front of Gardner Center will be re-configured; a covered drive-through will enable visitors to be dropped off or picked up at the welcome center. New landscaping and lighting are planned to improve the appearance of the campus as approached from White Avenue, which will become the major entrance to the university. Work on this project is slated for summer 2014.
Since much of the parking is being pushed to the perimeter of the campus, new and improved parking lots are planned for the front of Bulliner-Clayton Visual Arts Center and on Mill Street near the baseball field. Two houses on this street have been demolished. In addition, a small lot will be built behind Paul Gray Hall on the Brigance Hall site.
Students are excited about the campus improvements. Shelby White, a junior nursing major from Jackson, Tenn., said, "I love seeing the progress every day when I am walking to class! FHU is a special place to me as well as other students. These changes are a great way to show others just how special this place is."
Roman May, a sophomore psychology major from Richmond, Ky., agreed.
"Although sometimes frustrating, the campus renovations are a positive thing for FHU. The addition of Bader Green in the center of campus and the new entrance to Gardner Center will not only look better, but it will also be more welcoming to current and future students," he said. "The master plan is helping transform our campus to match and reflect the quality of the people it holds."