MUC expansion in planning stages

Although its completion took place less than three years ago, plans are being made to expand the Muenster University Center (MUC).

Initially discussed during President James Abbott's state of the university address earlier this semester, the plans have been confirmed by James Parker, dean of students at the University of South Dakota.

The project has a "hopeful opening date" of spring 2014, and the university has set aside a budget of $7.9 million, he said.

"We're excited to provide the additional space in a living learning environment for our students," Parker said. We're excited for the project to get underway."

Planning for the expansion began in the fall of 2010, when the university was looking into making renovations to the North Complex Commons, an on-campus dining facility.

Making those renovations would have cost "relatively the same" as an expansion of the MUC, Parker said.

"That's when we began to look at the feasibility of, should we truly expand, as opposed to renovating an existing dining facility," he said. "When we looked at all of the different research that we did within our students, faculty, staff and community members, the Muenster University Center was a much better option than renovating the Commons."

During his state of the university address, Abbott said the MUC had been designed with an eye toward eventual expansion.

USD's Planning and Construction office currently is working with RSArchitects of Sioux Falls to finalize plans for the project.

"(The architects) will take data from as many constituents as they possibly can, and create a design for us," Parker said.

The expansion will take place south of where the MUC now stands.

"There's that link that goes between the MUC and the library. It'll be on both sides of that, south of the existing structure," Parker said.

The expansion will not extend all the way to I.D. Weeks Library, he added.

The MUC opened in February 2009.

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