University officials are in the process of deciding what to do with the newly acquired Payne Printing building.
The university bought the building in the spring of this year, but there has been no word on what its intended use.
Kit Foley, Vice President of Student Life, said the building was purchased because it was put up for sale.
“I don’t think it was a building that the university was actively approaching,” she said. “I believe we were approached to say, ‘would we be interested?’ and then the board of trustees gets involved. They have to approve buying a new property, things of that sort, so there’s a whole process.”
David Rehm, Vice President of Academic Affairs, said the purchase of the building made sense because of its proximity to campus.
“It’s 1500 feet from the entrance from Mercy Hall to the entrance to the Payne Building,” he said. “There’s no other building that size and magnitude that close to campus that would’ve been available for sale.”
Foley explained the university is “landlocked” and there is, institutionally, usually a “master plan” when it comes to buildings and grounds.
“When buildings near the university become available, I think it’s an opportunity for the university to take a look and say, ‘are they located in an area that would be helpful?’ and ‘is the building something that we would be able to use for some fashion?’” she said.
She continued to explain there are some areas on campus that need additional space because space for students is limited. One example is being unable to hold events in Anderson due to indoor sports practices.
“We have areas all over campus that are in need of space,” said Rehm. “Nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, athletics, recreation, student affairs – those are some top ones.”
Rehm said an email was sent to the community to give people an opportunity to contribute ideas for the Payne building’s future. However, it is still too early to know what exactly is going to be put in the building due to the space and facilities task force, which has been charged by the president to identify the top needs of space and facilities on campus.
“Payne building is just a part of that,” he said. “The space and facilities needs are in other areas. The question is how we would move things around in order to best position the university for the future in terms of our space and facilities needs and assets.”
Foley said many ideas are good ones and others may not be appropriate for the building, so it may result in moving a different facility on campus to the Payne building and moving said ideas to the open space on campus.
“It really gives us an opportunity to look comprehensively at what the needs are,” she said. “How can we best utilize our space, and how can we provide opportunities for our students both in the classroom and outside the classroom?”