Student Commons Project Seeks Funds Before Student Input

April 6, 2016

By Marty Carlino

Dominican’s Student Commons project is suffering delays while the university awaits funding.

The Student Commons project, initially set to begin in the Spring of 2016, is long overdue.

The purpose of this space is to provide students, specifically commuters, with a place to gather between classes and engage with each other.

The exterior design of the building is complete; however, the interior designs cannot commence until production is underway. This means that students will have to wait until they can have their say in the project.

“We’re pretty far along with the design,” said Dominican University Project Manager Dawn Morse.

Production cannot begin until 70 percent of the funds are secured. According to university officials, Dominican has budgeted $17 million for the project.

“It’s all donation dependent right now,” said Dominican’s Dean of Students Trudi Goggin. “We have a great plan and we’re ready to go.”

Dominican’s President, Donna Carroll addressed the status of the Student Commons project at a town hall forum held by Dominican’s Student Government Association (SGA). According to Carroll, “Seventy percent of the required funds are needed before production on the project can begin.”

Once plans are finalized, they must be approved by the Village of River Forest. According to Morse, “Dominican must submit a lengthy application as part of the process, as well as meet with a developmental review board and the village of River Forest board.”

Once that is done, Dominican can submit the project for permit. “Permit is more of a checking to make sure the code requirements are met, and they’re on board with all of the detailed issues,” Morse said.

One thing university officials want to stress is that the delay in the start of production is not related to the ongoing MAP grant difficulties.

“This project was never on the backs of students,” Goggin said. “It is all philanthropy generated and is not intended to impact student expenses in anyway.”

Outside donors will be paying for the Student Commons; these funds are restricted to that project and cannot be spent elsewhere.

Once Dominican gets closer to the 70 percent, the administration reach out to students to have their say in the interior design of the commons.

“We have to make sure that the content will fit, but we’re really looking for the students to give it the personality and the flavor,” Morse said.

Students are eager to participate in the design, but the university will likely wait until production plans become more concreate.

“We’re ready to hold forums for students, but we really want to make sure we can put the shovel in the ground first,” Goggin said. “We don’t want it to be a bait and switch, or something like that.”

Although the Commons have been delayed, the initial mission of the project remains constant.

“Our goal was to integrate services, as well as be available to the commuter student as well as the resident student,” Goggin said. “So often so much of what’s happening on campus seems to be geared towards our resident students. We think the convergence of our offices (Academic Enrichment Center, Office of Student Involvement and University Ministry) really centralizes student development and core support.”

University officials are unclear as to when production will actually begin, as Dominican is awaiting donor contributions in order to progress forward.