The Ole Miss Student Union will close after finals week in December until the fall 2017 semester when its new expansion is completed.
The new expanded side at the back of the Union will be open while the renovations on the front side are being done. Renovations will continue until the fall 2018 semester, when the entire Union will be completed and open.
In 1977, when the Union first opened, it acted as a community center for almost 9,000 students. The current student population at Ole Miss is over 20,000, which exceeds the amount of spaces for students available in the Union. After the expansion, the size will have doubled from 97,600 to 173,000 square feet.
“The Union is usually very crowded and hard to find a seat, especially during lunch,” junior marketing and corporate relations major Timera Rodgers said. “The expansions will give the students more room to relax, interact with each other and get involved on campus.”
Some of the expansions and renovations include a larger Union lobby with lounge space, eight conference room, a large ballroom with a lobby and balcony, a larger dining space with a food court and a front porch overlooking the Grove.
Other new additions to the Union include an Associated Student Body suite, a Dean of Students conference room and suite, a Student Activities Association office, an auditorium, a center for student organizations and a large workroom leadership suite. A transit hub will also be located on the basement level of the Union.
The project will cost $50 million, which comes from state funding, bonds and the capital improvement fees students are required to pay.
While the Union is closed, many of the important offices and other services will be relocating to other areas around campus. The Barnes and Noble bookstore will be relocating to the Jackson Avenue Center, opening December 14.
“All parts of the bookstore will be relocated except we will not have the total café,” Kathy Tidwell, manager of Contractual Services and director of University Licensing, said. “We will have drip coffee and pre-packed items of food. All retail, trade and textbooks will be in the store as it is now.”
Despite the Union food court being closed, there will be other on-campus dining options for students.
“We are fortunate now with all of the food service growth on our campus, that there are so many more places for students to eat than the union,” Bradley Baker, director of the Ole Miss Student Union, said.
After the expansion and renovations, the dining services will also add a McAlister’s Deli and a Which Wich Sandwich Shop to the menu.
“I like that they are going to bring more of a variety of food places on campus,” Rodgers said.