Campus renovations welcome back students

The completely remodeled first floor of the Library is just one of many renovations to the campus this semester.

Students returning to campus this semester will find it looking different than they remembered, as a number of building projects and renovations have given the campus a fresh look for the start of the fall semester. 

First floor of the Library

With final costs estimated at roughly $2 million, the largest and most extensive renovation over the summer semester was the renovation of the first floor of the Library. 

What was previously known as the Student Media Center on the second floor has switched places with the Writing Center on the first floor and has been given a new look and a new name.

Now called the Digital Media Commons, the area adjacent to the front desk will be equipped with dual monitors, four smart boards donated by a USF alumnus and computers with the full Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.

Bill Garrison, dean of USF Libraries, said everything about the new media commons, from the hardware to the furniture arrangements, is meant to promote collaborations between students and an active space for students to create multimedia projects.

“At the end of this fall semester we are also planning on having what they call active walls, where the walls will actually have interactive boards across the whole wall,” Garrison said.

The Digital Media Commons will also have staff to educate students on how to use the multimedia software and rent out cameras and sound

The study area and Learning Commons were also renovated over the summer.

The study area has been given all new furniture and glass dividers with electrical outlets to give students more places to charge their cellphones and laptops.

Eileen Thornton, assistant director for communications at the Library, said the amount of electrical outlets previously available on the first floor was not enough to keep up with the increasing number of students the Library has been attracting. 

“Second to ‘It’s too cold,’ we’ve heard ‘More outlets, please’ from students,” she said.

The Learning Commons area next to the Starbucks has been equipped with additional printers and 40 new computers. The IT Help Desk located in the same area was also remodeled. 

Campus Recreation

The indoor pool at the Campus Recreation Center received a major renovation for the first time since it was built in 1963. The indoor pool now has a new green and gold deck and a resurfaced and repainted interior.

The men’s and women’s locker rooms at the Campus Recreation Center were also given new lockers, showers, carpet and paint. 

Both projects were funded through the Capital Improvement Trust Fund.

USF Bookstore Cafe and Patio

The USF Bookstore was also completely renovated over the summer, as well as the cafe inside.

The cafe was moved to the first floor and, according to a press release from USF, “all walls and all floors, which totals 23,500 square feet of space, were renovated.”

The patio outside the entrance adjacent to the Marshall Student Center (MSC) now has 35 seats including glider swings and additional study space.

The USF Bookstore was renovated with a revamped cafe on the first floor that also includes an outside patio.

USF Dining

Students will also find new renovations in the Fresh Food Company dining hall in Argos and the Einstein Bros. Bagels in the MSC.

Ashley Horowitz, marketing manager for USF Dining Services, said the Fresh Food Company dining hall will now have 11 different stations and increased seating capacity.

Horowitz said students can also look forward to seeing “a full bakery and coffee bar, a completely vegan station, a produce bar with made-to-order deli and a daily signature Panini.”

Einstein Bros. Bagels renovations include new furniture, increased seating space and an express line for coffee.

Student Government

Student Government (SG) followed suit on summer renovations with two new additions to be completed during the fall semester.

Previously called the Fallen Bull Memorial, the Student Memorial continues to be constructed on Crescent Hill behind the MSC. 

The Student Memorial, which will feature engraved granite modeled after the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. and a reflection pool, will replace the current student memorial bricks that line the walkway into the MSC.

SG Senate President Pro Tempore said SG is hoping the roughly $426,000 project will be completed no later than October.

“Most people have no idea where the student memorial is and a lot of the benches in the area have been messed up by skateboarders,” Aziz said. “We want to do better.”

SG has also been working with the now-defunct USF Lakeland Student Government to complete a new addition to the area between the Chemistry building and the Bioscience building. 

The plaza was conceived to serve as a memorial for the USF Lakeland campus and its students after the campus was converted into Florida Polytechnic University.

According to Aziz, the $600,000 in funding for the project, which features new solar paneled tables for charging electronics, and outdoor “living room-type” furnishing, was allocated through the USF Lakeland Teach Out Fund.

The Lakeland plaza was conceived to serve as a memorial for the USF Lakeland campus and its students after the campus was converted into Florida Polytechnic University. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

Public Art Installations

Harrison Convington, an artist and former dean at the College of The Arts, will have his new painted steel structure “Concentric Figures” on display in Simmons Park during this semester.

Students will also be able to view a new welded steel mesh installation by former professor Richard Beckman titled “Half the Truth.” It will be on display on the grassy area between the Fine Arts building, Psychology building and the School of Music. The sculpture was a gift from the family of Richard Beckman.

Art by Harrison Convington, former dean of the College of The Arts, was installed a sculpture in Simmons Park. 

Parking and Transportation

Students looking to park in Lot 37 across from the C.W. Bill Young Hall will no longer have to struggle with an unpaved lot and unclear parking spots. 

According to Raymond Mensah, director of USF Parking and Transportation Services, contractors spent the summer laying down crushed asphalt and painting the lines on the lot to turn the temporary lot in to a fully paved parking lot.

“It’s going to let us make more use of the lot,” Mensah said. “Before there were no lines, so if one person parks over it’s a domino effect and we are not using the spaces as best as we can.”

There will be 38 available parking spaces on the lot for students with an “S” pass.