SDSU Foundation plans major updates for campus

Maddi Anderson Managing Editor




Senate Bill 20 was signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on March 24, granting the authority to demolish the Tompkins Alumni Center and the Alvilda Myre Sorenson Center. As a result of SB 20, the western side of campus will see some updates in the coming years. 

The SDSU Foundation has plans to expand the Jerome J. Lohr building, including a new building for the Alumni Association. A new University House, which will house the next president of the university, is also part of the plans. 

“We presented a proposal and asked for concepts … we have selected an architecture firm, it’s a company out of Sioux Falls, TSP Inc.,” said Steve Erpenbach, president of The Foundation. Three different firms were interviewed for the project. Outdoor space, green space and the potential for public space and a plaza were all aspects that were looked for in the search for a company to spearhead the construction, Erpenbach said. 

SB 20 allows for four years to tear down the two buildings, which provides time to complete the necessary steps to begin construction. In order to begin building, a new space must be found. The organization is currently housed in the buildings that are planned to be torn down. 

“The functions of the American Indian Center would need to be relocated in a comparable place,” said Bob Otterson, executive assistant to the president. 

The University Police Department will be relocated to a spot near the stadium after it is completed, and the Alumni Association will receive a new space connected to the Foundation building. 

“Council of Trustees will be on campus April 24. We will make a presentation to them about the project. We are helping to provide the development update,” Erpenbach said. 

In the immediate future, plans include working with the architecture firm to start design work for the project. A committee made up of about 12 students and various faculty members on campus will provide ideas for the project.

Erpenbach said fundraising is another main focus, with $2 million committed so far to the project, and an established goal of $8 million. The entire project will be privately funded. 

“It’s time we focused on having something nice for our alumni and having a nice building dedicated to them,” said Daniel Vellek, student representative of the Alumni Association. 

According to Vellek, a new conference room in the expansion will be a space available for alumni to use so they will be able to be in their building, versus reserving conference rooms in The Union. This will benefit students as well, because they will have more access to rooms in The Union.

The new University House will leave Woodbine Cottage as a space that will serve as a guest house for visitors to stay, and a location for events. 

“[Woodbine Cottage] will be used and will be preserved, it’s definitely in the plans for the whole project,” Erpenbach said. 

Woodbine Cottage is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Otterson, and will be maintained. The recommended location for the University House is west of Medary Avenue. 

“First of all, the changing dynamics of the role of the president as a host for certain events a University House will be a more suitable venue for special events, Woodbine Cottage was not meant to hold large special events,” Otterson said. 

UND, NDSU, and Pittsburg State in Kansas have done similar projects with a university house and have been successful according to Otterson. 

A new building for the Alumni Association will be built connected to the Foundation building. According to Otterson, the Tompkins Alumni Center lacks the space to hold larger events, a problem that will be solved by a new building. 

 “It will create more of a campus feel over there,” Vellek said. 

The buildings will be built with a focus on The Campanile across the street. The project will also allow that part of campus to match the newer look of campus. The expansion project will create a shared space for the Alumni Association and the Foundation, and with the addition of the University House, the hope is to fulfill the need for space for special events. The Foundation, Alumni Association and the President’s Office will all have a role in the project.

 Vellek said, “The Alumni Association is referred to as the ‘friend’ raisers and the Foundation are the fundraisers and it will be nice to have the two in a building together.”