The Multicultural Student Center has been making progress toward becoming a reality on campus due to efforts from students that are part of the Multicultural Center Action Team.
Kansas State University president Richard Myers presented the Multicultural Center Action Team with $1.5 million toward funding the center, donated by the Morris family. This brought the total funding to $4.2 million, with $5.5 million as the goal.
Adrian Rodriguez, associate vice president of diversity and multicultural student affairs, said the team has been very active in making strides toward the building’s development.
“In November, we had the opportunity to take several students to make our case for approval to the Kansas Board of Regents,” Rodriguez said. “We were able to do that, present it to them in November, and in December they approved the multicultural center as a building project moving forward. We’re pretty ecstatic about that.”
The Multicultural Center Action Team is comprised of over 20 members. Rodriguez said he was grateful to have students be a part of the team and mentioned Jordan Kiel, student body president and senior in industrial engineering, Monica Romero, Hispanic American Leadership Organization president and sophomore in nutritional sciences, and Del’Sha Roberts, Black Student Union president and senior in biology, as a few students who were helpful in their endeavors to make the center a reality.
“They were really important in answering questions from the Kansas Board of Regents members about what the space meant to them and why such a space is so critically important to the future of Kansas State University,” Rodriguez said.
The team is working with architecture company Hollis + Miller and construction company McCown Gordon to design the building around certain needs for the center. Rodriguez said throughout the fall semester, they had several workshops in which the team worked with Hollis + Miller to create early design concepts.
“Now, McCown Gordon is working with Hollis + Miller to work through some of those designs,” Rodriguez said. “We’re bringing the group together here in the next two weeks for our first meeting of the semester in which Hollis + Miller will present some of their drawings and renderings based on the work of the team in the fall.”
Rodriguez said Hollis + Miller will present some of these drawings to the team as well as discuss the site and logistics of the building.
The name for the center will incorporate the name of the Morris family in honor of the donor who provided the lead gift of $1.5 million for the project. Rodriguez said there may be some additions to the name as well.
“As far as the naming process goes, that will be a part of the first meeting,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll talk about how we’re going to go about with the official naming and how we will roll that out to get community input on the name. There’ll be some options there, but obviously we want to honor our major contributor for the center as part of the gift. That will be incorporated, but we’ll talk through some options and present some opportunity for our community to provide some feedback.”
The Multicultural Student Center will be immediately adjacent to the K-State Student Union. Rodriguez said there will be a great deal of “curb appeal” in this area and the building will run the contour of Mid-Campus Drive while also being pedestrian-friendly. He said the groups involved in the construction of the building are doing all they can to maximize the footprint with creative design.
“I think this is going to be a building quite different than what you see on campus, with it being right up on the street and having absolute exposure,” Rodriguez said. “We [want] this building to be iconic here at Kansas State University for its architecture, but also what it symbolizes in having great identity and purpose for our great university.”
Rodriguez said construction is slated to begin in midsummer, but the timeline depends on how funding and other factors pan out through the spring semester. He said the team is looking at a 14-month construction schedule, all things considered.
Rodriguez said he thinks the center is important for all students at K-State.
“It allows us to grow and learn about what we value most at K-State, and that’s each other — every person that’s a part of the K-State family,” Rodriguez said. “It’s also a place where we can come together to grow and learn. We want to offer cultural competency development to all students … and we believe that this is an incredible venue that will be available to all students to be able to do exactly that.”