New Million Dollar Student Center Approved


At a special meeting Tuesday morning, the board of directors of Salina Area Technical College approved Ponton Construction’s offer of $ 1,075,000 to build a new student center.

Construction is expected to begin soon and be completed by July 31, 2022, in time for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

Salina Tech President Greg Nichols said that “As the number of students at Salina Tech continues to increase, so do those students having a place to go during breaks between classes. “.

The college previously had a location, called “The Flamingo Lounge,” in an addition on the west side of Building A, but that part of the building was demolished as part of a major renovation project over a decade ago.

“A student center is an important part of the college experience,” Nichols said.

When Nichols was appointed president of Salina Tech in 2016, the college was already considering an entrance from the west side of the building, to create a more direct path to Building B, but those plans were put on hold. Nichols said, “I wanted to better understand the financial situation here and the needs of students and employees,” when he asked the council to postpone the project.

Since then, however, the number of registrations has continued to grow and increased by almost 50% over the past five years.

So those old plans were dusted off and updated, to include more than just an entrance, and the Salina Tech Foundation began raising funds for the project in early 2021.

The addition will include a common area for students, an on-campus bookstore, and a dining hall with fresh produce options.

The student center alone has been estimated at $ 700,000, with an additional $ 180,000 added to the project to replace the entire roof of Building A, and approximately $ 50,000 in needed upgrades to the building’s HVAC system, for a total of of $ 930,000.

However, prices for building materials continued to rise and Nichols said he was not completely surprised by the final offers.

“We knew material prices were going up and decided to go ahead and do it now rather than later,” Nichols said. “We also have the opportunity to negotiate cost savings on building materials. “

Nichols said fundraising for the project continues, and once construction begins, it may encourage potential donors to contribute.

“We have raised a lot of the necessary funds through the Salina Tech Foundation,” according to executive director Larry Pankratz, “but we still have a ways to go. “

He added that while there are naming rights available for the entire project or for sections of it, major donors have so far given up on this option, leaving this option open to future donors.

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