After 18 months of construction, an $8.5 million renovation of the Memorial Union will come to an official close at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Fort Hays State University Quad.
The ceremony will be in conjunction with the Back-to-School Picnic. Food will be served from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The meal will include barbecued chicken or pork, coleslaw, baked beans, watermelon, dessert and a drink for $5.50. Music will be provided by the Blue Healers. The picnic will conclude at 7 p.m.
"Now that the renovation is finished, the transformation of the union into the true community center of the campus can begin," said Bill Smriga (pronounced SMREE-guh), Union director. He said only a few small tasks such as landscaping, sidewalks and hanging curtains are left to complete the renovation.
The renovation started in October 2005. The lower level of the union was entirely remodeled and houses the new student activities area called Cody Commons as well as student organization offices, the Student Health Center, a computer cyber center with wireless access throughout the building, part of the University Bookstore and a deli food outlet.
Next to the food court on the first floor, a broad, curving staircase leads down to Cody Commons, which includes a stage, tiered seating, TV monitors and a surround-sound system. It is named after the first building on the site, a dining hall built in 1923.
The first floor houses a newly designed food court, a convenience store, Tiger Cove, the Student Service Center, Commerce Bank, the university mail center, the Sunset Lounge and a new elevator next to the stairwell on the southeast end of the union.
The building also needed upgrades to the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems.
To help fund the renovation, the Student Government Association conducted a successful referendum in November 2003 that increased student fees by $6 per credit hour. Additional funding came from the union reserve fund, university reserves and contributions from the University Bookstore and Chartwells Food Service.
The Memorial Union was dedicated Oct. 18, 1958. An annex was added in 1970.