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$1.5 million Welcome Plaza in front of Student Union won’t be completed until October

OSU Welcome Plaza

This sky-view drawing shows what the $1.5 million Welcome Plaza will look like when it’s unveiled Oct. 28. 

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 7:05 pm

Updated: 9:53 pm, Tue Jun 21, 2016.

$1.5 million Welcome Plaza in front of Student Union won’t be completed until October

Jordan Bishop,
Staff Reporter,

The O’Colly

Students and faculty wanting to walk through the south entrance of the Student Union without seeing any signs of constru will have to wait until October, said Steve Dobbs, Oklahoma State University’s Landscape Services Manager.

The area south of the Student Union and between the Alumni Center and School of Media and Strategic Communications is under construction to host a Welcome Plaza. The plaza will feature two bronze sculptured horses along with trees and other amenities intended to provide a friendly atmosphere to the school’s visitors and future students.

Kyle Wray, OSU’s Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing, was a driving force behind the idea of the estimated $1.5 million plaza because he felt the school lacked a welcome area like other universities Wray had seen.

“When high school students come to campus on tours, it can be kind of intimidating,” Wray said. “Especially if you’re a kid from a small town and so we’re building this to minimize that and set them at ease.”

In late 2013, Wray and a committee including OSU President Burns Hargis brainstormed ideas until they came up with the current iteration. The statue, built by Marrita Black, is supposed to reflect the spirit of the university, Wray said.

When OSU approved the project in October 2014, it set a timetable for completion in 2016 and Dobbs said everything has stayed on track for the most part.

“One reason this one is taking a little bit longer is we’re kind of having to do it in phases to be able to keep entrances, and sidewalks and driveways open with handicap accessibility,” Dobbs said. “It would have been a quicker project to just block everything off and demolition and do everything at once, but when you have to section out and bring in contractors at different times, it just takes a little bit longer.”

Dobbs said the funds for the project didn’t come from student fees, but rather from capital project funds and donor support which is one of the reasons behind the nearly two-year wait.

Because of issues that come with landscaping, Dobbs said though the concrete foundations and sidewalks are being built quickly, other things such as gardening will take time.

 “It’s not just landscape plans,” Dobbs said. “People forget that there’s a lot of other things that go in to it.”

The dedication of the competed plaza is set for Oct. 28 during Homecoming Weekend. Wray said he thinks that will be the perfect time for students and alumni to see the newest addition to OSU’s campus.

“I think it will be something that our university and supporters will turn out for,” Wray said. “Rarely will you be able to have that kind of unveiling.”

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016 7:05 pm.

Updated: 9:53 pm.

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