Budget concerns growing ahead of Hoover Dining Hall construction


Douglas W. Redding, Manager of Campus Project Implementation, and Christopher Wells, DePauw's vice president for communications and initiatives, attempted to relieve faculty concerns Thursday afternoon about the upcoming Hoover Dining Hall project.
The project, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, is slated to begin construction sometime in May. However, it is currently underfunded, with a gap of six to eight million dollars to be filled.
Wells said that the number is not a deficit, but that it is a gap between the expected cost of the renderings and the current funds that the university has secured. He believes that the goal is finding a way to bridge the gap, either by securing more funds from donors or by making cuts to the current plans.
DePauw has a policy that states that 70 percent of funds for any major construction project must be in hand before the project starts, and the donor must pledge to allocate 100 percent of the funds before construction can begin, which is where the problem is stemming from.
When asked whether the rule applied and was holding up the process, Wells responded with a simple, "Yes."
Wells insists that the university has been, and currently still is, in the process of cutting options that are more costly and unnecessary.
"Painted walls will be more common inside than stained wood, because of money," Wells said.
He went on to state that these less significant cuts have already taken place, and will continue to take place throughout the process.
However, Wells does admit that many of the easier cuts have already taken place, and more significant ones will follow.
"Some space has been cut from the servery and the kitchen," he said.
According to Redding, the university hopes for Hoover to have a life span of one hundred years on DePauw's campus. It is set to replace the Hub as the primary dining option on campus upon opening at the end of the 2015 spring semester.
The Hub's current capacity of just over 300 people is set to increase to over 500 upon Hoover's completion. The new dining hall is also said to accommodate Bon Appétit, DePauw's food service provider, with the necessary kitchen and serving space to continue to operate.
"[Bon Appétit] has been a voice at the table," Wells said. "They moved into a space not designed for what they do. This new building will let them do what they do well, better."
Further, Hoover will create a centralized space for dining on campus, previously unachievable with the current design of the Union Building. In the meantime, Wells asks the students for their patience during the construction process.
"We will take the time to do it right. All aspects need to take place in proper time," he said.
Redding and Wells both believe that the university has one or two options to raise money to bridge the gap between the proposed costs of the rendering and the amount of money currently available to the university.
Hoover should be completed by the end of the spring semester in 2015. Construction, upon bridging the financial gap, is set to begin after commencement this May.