Fort Hays State University's annual Back-to-School Picnic brings together the community and the campus to celebrate the start of the new school year, and this year's picnic offers a special attraction: tours of the completed $8.5-million renovation of the Memorial Union.
The Union serves as the central gathering place for university activities, and it also provides facilities for many and varied community events. This is an opportunity for members of the community to have a sneak preview of the building. Those who are familiar with the Memorial Union may not believe their eyes when they see how thoroughly the building has been reconfigured and modernized.
It will also be an opportunity for the public to see for the first time the life-size bronze Tiger that was created by art students and sculptor Tobias Flores, assistant professor of art. The sculpture will stand at the new west entrance to the Union.
The Back-to-School Picnic begins at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors on the east side of the Union.
Food will be served in the Quad from 5 to 6:30 p.m., following the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. The meal will include a barbecued chicken or pork sandwich, coleslaw, baked beans, watermelon, dessert and a drink for $5.50 per person. Afterward, tours of the beautiful new Union will begin.
The picnic also will feature the music of the Blue Healers and other activities sponsored by the University Activities Board, including booths of student organizations and local Tiger card merchants. The picnic will conclude at 7 p.m.
Construction began on the Union in November 2005. The original 94,000-square-foot building was expanded by 2,700 square feet. Highlights of the project include the bronze Tiger in the new circle drive at the reconstructed west entrance, a new atrium entrance and refurbished Sunset Lounge, a new plaza facing the Quad, cleaning of the masonry, new windows and doors, a new roofing membrane, a new elevator, a new Student Health Center, new offices for student activities, the new Cody Commons student lounge and food service in the lower level, an expansion of the Barnes and Noble bookstore, complete renovation of the food court and dining area, an expanded Student Service Center, and reorganized second floor administrative offices.