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Marshall board approves new campus master plan

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For The State Journal

HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Board of Governors has voted its approval of the school's new 10-year master plan for the campus. 

The new plan envisions major renovations or additions to a number of campus buildings, including the Memorial Student Center and Cam Henderson Center, the home court for MU basketball. 

In the works for more than a year, the plan was prepared for Marshall by a consortium of consultants, headed by SmithGroup JJR of Ann Arbor, Mich. The consultants have been at work since November 2012, gathering suggestions and comments from Marshall administrators, faculty and students, as well as alumni and interested members of the community. 

Mary L. Jukuri, a campus planner with SmithGroup, told a Dec. 11 meeting of the Board of Governors that the newly approved plan shouldn't be viewed as something set in stone but rather a road map to guide future discussions on how the campus can best be utilized. 

All state colleges and universities are required by law to prepare such a campus plan every 10 years. Marshall's new plan replaces a previous plan put in place in 2003. The new plan now goes to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission for review. 

At the Memorial Student Center, the plan proposes additions on both sides of the structure that would provide additional space for group study areas, meeting rooms, dining facilities and student organizational offices. 

The plan calls for removal of the exterior entrance ramp at Henderson Center and the creation of a new entranceway, plus renovation of the building's public restrooms and the addition of air conditioning. The plan says the center needs better accessibility to the parking garage located across 3rd Avenue from it, as well as improved pedestrian access to the campus. 

The planners urged for dorm rooms at the university's Twin Towers complex be modernized and enlarged. That work, along with the demolition of Holderby Hall, will mean a loss of 425 dorm beds, which will need to be replaced by new residence hall construction. Renovation projects also are proposed for Gullickson Hall, the Morrow Library, the Science Building, Corbly Hall, Jenkins Hall and Prichard Hall. Perhaps the most ambitious project envisioned in the plan is the construction of a new high-tech classroom building at an early date and perhaps a second classroom building later. 

Marshall's Huntington campus is bordered by 3rd and 5th avenues. Noting that neither avenue currently carries traffic at its full capacity, the plan recommends reducing each of them to three lanes rather than four. The planners note that pedestrians often find it difficult to cross the two avenues, and removing one lane would provide room for infrastructure improvements in the name of safety, as well as bike lanes. Any changes in the traffic pattern on the two avenues would require the approval of both the West Virginia Division of Highways and the city of Huntington.