WSSU sees major expansion over next 20 years, including new stadium
13 June 2018
Winston-Salem State University has announced a 20-year master plan for the university that includes four new academic buildings, two new residence halls and a new 6,000-seat football stadium, along with other improvements.
The price tag: $556 million in 2018 dollars.
The plan was approved unanimously by the WSSU Board of Trustees on Friday.
A spokesman for WSSU said the university would continue in the short term to work toward buying Bowman Gray Stadium from the city of Winston-Salem, but that designers were asked to see if a stadium could be built closer to the core of the school.
“We were pleased when they came back and determined there is space for an on-campus multipurpose convocation center and a football stadium,” said Jay Davis, the director of media relations for WSSU.
The master plan was developed by Sasaki Associates as the result of a nine-month process that included meetings with WSSU administrators, faculty, staff and students.
Davis said Sasaki will now work to finalize the details of the plan, which does not require approval from the UNC system. Beyond projects currently under construction, money to pay for the plan goals has not been identified.
Davis said a variety of sources are possible in addition to state and student-fee sources. Those could include enhanced fund-raising, partnerships and collaborations, and exploring ways to generate more revenue.
In addition to the expansions, the master plan calls for improvements to pedestrian traffic to draw together the parts of the campus, and for more on-campus amenities and job opportunities
The master plan “supports the growth of academic programs and advances the living/learning concept, which focuses on creating facilities that support high-impact teaching practices and enhanced student learning,” Constance Mallette, the vice chancellor of finance and administration, said in a statement released Monday.
The plan envisions the construction of 1.35 million square feet of space, including the four academic buildings that would support science and health programs in the school’s emerging Science District in the West Campus.
For that expansion, WSSU would acquire land that became vacant with the closure last year of the Rams Drive ramp.
The new football stadium would be located on the east side of the campus, where an athletic field and track now sit between campus buildings and a creek. The plan shows seating on the west and north sides of the proposed stadium.
The inclusion of plans for a new stadium took city leaders by surprise, since they had assumed WSSU was counting on using Bowman Gray Stadium as its football home into the future. Plans have been in the hopper for years now for the city to sell the stadium to WSSU.
Davis said that WSSU had to develop its master plan on the reality that it does not own the stadium, but that plans may change if WSSU does eventually end up with the stadium.
“There are many complexities around Bowman Gray Stadium,” Davis said, adding that “if we were to own the stadium, it would change our perspective on the football facility detailed in the plan.”
State approval is required for WSSU to acquire Bowman Gray Stadium, and city officials say their understanding is that state environmental regulators are working on a so-called brownfields agreement that is needed because of environmental contamination of the property. A former landfill occupies the property.
Council Member Derwin Montgomery, an advocate of the sale of the stadium and the chaplain of the WSSU National Alumni Association, said he, too, was caught off guard by the Monday announcement by WSSU. He said he thought WSSU was more focused on needed baseball field improvements rather than having a new football stadium.
Davis said WSSU is continuing to discuss the baseball and softball needs with the city.
The master plan’s convocation center, providing multiple uses, would have seating for 3,000 people.
The plan calls for renovating and expanding the Hall Patterson Building, the Hauser Hall of Music and the arts and visual studies departments. The campus would get two parking garages with rooftop solar panels and providing 1,200 parking spaces.
The Atkins and Martin-Schexnider residence halls would be expanded and two new residence halls built to accommodate a growth in enrollment that is expected to amount to 12 percent over the next five years. That would equate to 650 additional students over the current enrollment of 5,100.
Some projects are already underway, including $53 million for a new sciences building under construction and $24 million for a new residence hall. Designs have been completed for $30 million in future construction that is awaiting state appropriation, including the Hauser Hall expansion.
Davis noted that the plan may change in time to come because of future developments.
“The plan that was approved on Friday is where we are now,” Davis said. “This is a road map, but its also not something that’s set in stone.”