Gannon University is starting major renovations to the Carneval Athletic Pavilion this summer, but Nash Library will go untouched for at least the next year.
According to Ken Brundage, director of the Nash Library, development of the renovation plan began with a feasibility study and was followed by the Gannon community participating in a survey and sharing its input.
However, plans have stalled since that phase – primarily because the university cannot renovate both the Carneval Athletic Pavilion and Nash Library simultaneously.
Linda Wagner, vice president of Finance and Administration, explained the Gannon administration’s normal procedure is to decide which projects in the strategic plan should be addressed in the coming year.
Their decision is based on a series of scores, covering key rubrics, including “mission fit,” “strategic importance,” “student experience,” “estimated net revenue” and “risk,” or the risk of proceeding or not proceeding.
“The last time we went through that process, the top two projects were really the library and the rec center,” Wagner said. “The rec center renovation just slightly outranked the library.”
Ultimately, the renovation of the Carneval Athletic Pavilion was determined to have greater net revenue potential, based on recruitment, retention and the greater Erie community.
Hannah Smerker, a sophomore biology/pre-medicine major and current vice president of academic affairs for the Student Government Association, said she was looking forward to the renovations of the CAP but would have also liked to have seen the Nash Library updated sooner.
“It’s hard to say which project – the rec center or the library – should have been completed first, because each student’s priorities are different,” said Smerker. “I am disappointed that the library won’t be finished before I graduate because the current library doesn’t provide the best environment for productive studying.”
Still, not all students share the same optimistic outlook. Tom Stiller, a junior social work major, argued that tuition reductions should take precedence over updates to buildings such as theCAP.
“I think renovating either is an unnecessary waste of resources that Gannon will have us pay for by making our education there more expensive,” Stiller said.
The tentative plans for the library renovation, which Brundage described as “the academic heart of a university,” include an entrance on Sixth Street as well as on Sassafras and a “learning commons” that Brundage articulated as an update to center the space around how students use it now.
“The student learning commons concept accepts that students have different learning styles and that even the same student has a different set of needs depending on what they’re working on,” Brundage said.
Both Wagner and Brundage said that plans for the Nash Library renovation, while on hold, were not unforeseeable in the future. “We’re actively seeking donors,” Wagner said. “We’re hoping that if we can fundraise a portion of it, then as our debt capacity gets greater we can move that project forward.
“It’s very much on the forefront.”