The Donald G. Bollinger Memorial Student Union at Nicholls State University has undergone renovations recently, and all involved are now looking forward to the next steps in the renovation process.
Terry Braud, vice president for finance and administration at Nicholls, manages finances and oversees many departments at Nicholls. Braud has been directly involved in the continuing union renovation process.
Braud said that the original budget for the student union renovation was $400,000, but due to some minor changes, the final budget ended up being about $500,000. He said that $325,000 of the money used in the renovation was given by a donor.
Braud said that the renovation is an ongoing upgrade process, but phase one of the union renovation plan is now complete. Currently, the vision for phase two is being created.
“Overall, we want to modernize the space,” Braud said. “We want to make it a space that is welcoming to students.”
Braud said that he thinks the union can be modernized by improving food options in the food court, updating the Colonel’s Retreat restaurant and finding ways to improve the space as a whole. Braud said phase two should help in this process because it will likely include replacing the old furniture and upgrading the food court.
Braud said that during the first phase of renovations, students, faculty, staff and alumni were asked to contribute input and ideas for the new union. The ideas were then brought to a committee to determine what held priority, based on budget and affordability.
After this process, plans were brought to architects, and the new space was designed and built. Braud said he believes the renovations of phase two will most likely follow the same process.
“We had a lot of work to do on our student union,” Jay Clune, president of Nicholls, said.
Clune said he thinks the new furniture purchased for the union will be more like the furniture that is currently in The Grid, where the furniture is modernized and students can plug in electronics.
“It’s going to be a welcoming space; I think it’s going to be a very busy space,” Clune said. “Once we get students back into that space and they’re staying after one or two in the afternoon, I think you’ll see the food options begin to expand.”
Braud said that some ideas include booths along the back wall of the union, high-top tables with charging stations and modular furniture that can be pulled apart.
“The feedback on what we’ve done, up until now, has been favorable,” Braud said. “We’re still tweaking it a little bit.”
Braud said one way in which the union was tweaked was the removal of televisions. He said that because of this, the space has become quieter, so there has been an addition of speakers for music. He also said that new wireless speakers have been looked at for more long-term use.
Another tweak that Braud mentioned was the new lighting in the union. The lighting is now controlled through a dimmer switch, which Braud said will help make the space more inviting and will be useful for various events hosted in the union.
With these new renovations, Braud hopes to have more activities hosted in the union that allow for community attendance, ultimately bringing more attention to the renovations.
“With attention comes the possibility of some added interest through donors,” Braud said.
Braud said that the planning process for the next phase of renovations will take place sometime between late January and early February. He said depending on the extent of the work in phase two, it should be completed over the summer and ready for students coming back for the fall 2020 semester.