Indiana State University alums who ventured into Terre Haute this weekend for the school’s Homecoming festivities likely found changes underway and ahead for their alma mater.

Some changes are clearly visible. Others remain in the blueprint stage. All reflect concern for the future of the 154-year-old university, students and the community.

The most obvious alteration involves Hulman Center. It was built in 1973 as a multipurpose arena, but is most commonly known for being the home court of the ISU basketball teams. A $50-million renovation is halfway complete. State funds totaling $37.5 million, coupled with $12.5 million in gifts, cash reserves and loans, are paying for the project. The makeover is meant to enhance Hulman Center’s capabilities and increase its efficiency, helping the structure to last another half-century. Completion is expected next year.

Thousands of ISU students have lived in the Lincoln Quad residence complex since it opened in 1969. Student groups called it home, as well. Last week, the administration recommended the 768-bed complex be closed after the spring semester of next year and then demolished. An estimate from 10 years ago concluded it would cost $55 million to renovate and modernize Lincoln Quad. Other residential halls have been upgraded in recent years, and off-campus apartments abound. Lincoln Quad’s bed space is no longer needed.

A stroll through campus would have revealed more changes to alums. The newly renovated, state-of-the-art Health and Human Services building opened earlier this year. The four student residence halls in Sycamore Towers have been upgraded. Renovations to the Fine Arts Building are nearly complete, too.

On Thursday, ISU president Deborah Curtis and Athletic Director Sherard Clinkscales presented a visionary master plan for Sycamore athletic facilities to an assembly of interested parties from the campus and community. It would create a corridor of facilities for the university’s athletic teams along First Street from Cherry to Locust streets. Those facilities would also be multi-use spaces for gatherings on non-game days.

A new softball stadium would join Sycamore Field, ISU’s baseball stadium, as a two-sport complex on Locust. An ISU basketball practice facility would be built at First and Cherry. Two options for football facilities were presented. A long-desired on-campus stadium, in one option, would be built on the northeast corner of First and Chestnut. The other possibility involves renovating existing Memorial Stadium into an 8,000-seat configuration.

The status quo, Curtis said Thursday regarding the athletics master plan, is not acceptable. “We have some beautiful facilities,” she added, mentioning the track and cross country facilities, and Hulman Center. “But some of our other facilities are not what they should be. That’s where we’re headed at this point.”

The athletics plan is in a formative stage and does not yet involve projected costs, so fundraising efforts are yet to come. Still, planning for improvements is an important step.

ISU looks markedly different to alums from the classes from the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s and even ‘90s. Changes there never cease, just like the rest of the world. It is promising to know the university that employs hundreds and educates thousands, yearly, is not sitting idle.
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