Last week, Wittenberg President Michael Frandsen sent out an email in regard to the new HWA complex. In the email, Frandsen outlined where the project currently was and a new budget for it. The HWA complex is now slated to be fully completed in the spring of 2019, with the 1929 field house being ready in the fall of 2018. Not only did the project get pushed back an entire semester, but now the complex is going to cost more than expected with a reported addition of $18 million. This new addition pushes the budget of the complex up to $52 million.
Accompanying this email was an email that was sent to faculty and staff. This email stated that a majority of the money in the Wittenberg Fund would be going to finishing this project. This means that money is going to be short on other areas of campus. In essence, the faculty and staff will not be receiving a raise for a while and there will not be any other major updates on campus.
As reported earlier this year, the new complex is set to push Wittenberg to the forefront of NCAA Division III facilities. Also, this new building was emphasized by athletic director Gary Williams to, “be the hub of all Wittenberg athletics and academics.” The goal for it is to lead a revolution on campus that revitalizes our community. This project is projected to bring in more students per class, especially athletes and help add an influx of wealth to Wittenberg University.
Although the new complex may complete all of these goals, current Wittenberg students have to be disappointed in where the project is. First off, the class of 2019 has to be extremely disappointed in the delay of construction. This year’s junior class has been salivating over this new facility for years and now they will only get to see its use in their last semester. With Witt hyping up this project, it was only natural for everyone to get excited. This is a huge let down for students, as they have helped contribute with their tuition to seeing this facility built. Athletes in fall sports in the class of 2019 have to be particularly upset in the fact that they really will not be getting to use the facility for their sport when their teammates will benefit from it.
Not only does this problem affect the athletes who do not really get to use the facility, but it affects Wittenberg athletics in general. After the completion of the softball, baseball, tennis, track and field, and lacrosse seasons, the complex began to be built. From the start it was known that the athletics teams would have to make do with what accommodations could be found for them. This has meant a struggle for practice times in certain areas, a fight for practice space and a struggle with weight room capacity. This leads teams to not reach their full potential. If teams have their workouts or practice space stunted, it will eventually mean not as productive practices and less improvement throughout.
Another problem that is beginning to come to fruition is anger between athletic programs, with teams being forced to share space and some teams being forced into places such as the hallway for practice. This can lead to athletic teams feeling unappreciated and not respected. This is never a good thing, as this generally leads to more athletes not participating the next year. Respect goes two ways and when athletes don’t feel respected, they don’t try as hard to continue Witt’s athletic dominance.
Also, how can a great university make an $18 million blunder? That is a huge amount of money. In fact, the project’s addition now accounts for more than a third of the budget. This means that someone along the way did not factor in a major portion of the project. To put things into perspective, $18 million is approximately the full tuition of 90 students for their entire college career. This statistic does not even include scholarships, so even more students’ full tuition is being added to the HWA complex. To make things worse, $18 million is more than the original plan for the indoor practice facility, which was reportedly funded by $10 million.
The news of the delayed plans for the complex are disappointing for students as well as the community. It means more time in construction and more wait time to see this revolutionary complex come to campus. One can only feel bad for Frandsen as he walked in on an error to begin his work as president of this esteemed university. This complex may lead to growth at Witt and an updated campus, but what is the cost? Are we risking upsetting current students, who are paying a large deal of money to attend here, in hopes of adding future students?