By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer
Baylor has received enough funding to begin construction of its new welcome center on the corner of I-35 and University Parks Drive. The Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center is currently in progress and is set to be completed by 2023.
“It will essentially be the new front door of the Baylor campus,” Jason Cook, vice president of Marketing and Communications and chief marketing officer, said. “We wanted to have a facility that is reflective of the quality of education that we provide here at Baylor but also the student experience.”
According to Cook, this building prioritizes welcoming prospective students and sets a great first impression for them. It will also serve as housing for the McLane alumni center.
Cook said this building is going to be multifunctional, as it will be beneficial for both incoming and current students. They can expect to find flexible meeting rooms for student organizations, event space and a new building for people to hang out and study in. In addition, visitors will be able to find a Baylor spirit gift shop where they can purchase merchandise.
As of now, the Board of Regents has not decided what the Wiethorn Undergraduate Admissions Center building will be used for once the offices change location to the new building.
The construction of the building is in the hands of construction company Vaughn Construction and architecture company Populous — both of which have worked alongside Baylor in several projects. When finished, the welcome center will be 120,000 square feet, and it continues to be envisioned as the images on the Baylor website show.
Although Mark and Paula Hurd provided the leading gift in order for the project to begin its course, Baylor is still looking for donations from those who would be interested in giving. There is an opportunity to get an engraved brick that will go in the building in exchange for a donation to help meet the project’s budget.
Cook said one of the sacrifices made when constructing a building like this is the road closures and construction zones, along with the I-35 reconstruction plans. Others believe it might not be the right time for a new welcome center.
“It is a good idea, and good use will come from it, but I also feel as though other renovations should come first, like old dorms,” Mansfield sophomore Brooke Johnson said. “Other things should come first.”
Boston, Mass., senior John Bilyou said he believes that there was no need to build a whole new building for a welcome center when there was already one that could have been worked on and improved.
“Kind of like a ‘work with what you got’ kind of thing,” Bilyou said.
Regardless, there are many things ahead for Baylor in terms of the front doors that will invite prospective students into their new home.