MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 26, 2013

Consultants: NSU Muskogee needs to double space

Northeastern State University’s Muskogee campus needs to double its space to accommodate its growing allied health program.

Consultants working on an NSU master plan said that while NSU Muskogee, 2400 W. Shawnee Bypass, has an abundance of classrooms, it does not have adequate lab space or academic support space. The consultants presented their findings and proposals Thursday and made similar presentations at NSU’s Tahlequah and Broken Arrow campuses.

“You need almost twice as much space to support programs you want to support in the future,” said John R. Bengston, vice president and principal with Paulien & Associates, planning consultants from Denver.

Bengston said a study of NSU Muskogee’s campus space showed that it has abundant classroom space. However, it has a deficit of 26,000 square feet of space needed for teaching labs, laboratory support, libraries and office space. Bengston said the space needs survey did not include NSU Muskogee space used by Connors State College.

Dr. Tim McElroy, dean of NSU Muskogee, said Connors is building an allied health facility at its Port Campus. When that building is finished, Connors will move its nursing program out of the NSU Synar Center but will keep its general education program at the NSU campus.

Neal Kessler, principal campus planner with Smithgroup JJR, showed three ideas on how NSU Muskogee can add space.

“If Connors decides to stay, we may need new facilities,” Kessler said.

He said that if Connors leaves the NSU Muskogee campus, it would open up 23,000 square feet of space.

One alternative for NSU Muskogee configures a new, small building west of the Synar Center and another building north of the Synar Center. The second alternative shows two small buildings north of the Synar Center and surrounding a quadrangle. The third alternative shows one large building north of the Synar Center.

Kessler did not specify square footage in his alternatives.

Pamela K. Hathorn, Ph.D., associate dean of the NSU College of Science and Health Professions said she would prefer one larger building. She said different programs could share lab and classroom space. Hathorn also asked about the possibility of a food court or commons area.

Kessler said he’s heard that one larger building is preferred over two smaller ones.

“But there are funding issues to consider,” Kessler said. “Or it could be one building that could be added to.”

Kessler also gave an overview of Master Plan proposals for the Tahlequah and Broken Arrow campuses. He said the framework for Tahlequah includes “reserving its high quality open space and historic context.”

One proposal for Tahlequah focused on developing toward the outer edges of the campus. A second focused on organizing campus “neighborhoods” around open spaces. A third focused on “uniting” the campus by removing Grand Avenue, which goes through the campus, and developing toward the interior to encourage pedestrian traffic.

Consultants will return to NSU in mid-summer with an overview of what was heard at these idea sessions. Kessler said the Master Plan could be finalized by the end of the year.

The master plan is NSU’s long-range strategy for building physical resources to support the university’s mission and vision.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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