Renovation of Washburn University’s Morgan Hall nears completion

Washburn University’s Morgan Hall renovation comes to a close this fall with the hall becoming the campus’ welcome center for students, staff and the Topeka community.

Morgan Hall has represented the administration building since the hall’s opening in 1955. It contained the mathematics, communication, English and modern language departments.

This building also housed the campus police, the president, admissions and financial aid offices. Most of these offices were transferred when the renovation began in February 2014.

Many students and faculty were influenced by the renovation changes. Ian Girdler, a nursing student at Washburn University, remembers when the renovations started.

“The construction hasn’t affected me too much, however it did cause me to alter the routes I took between classes,” Girdler said, “At first the blockage of Morgan Hall’s parking lot was annoying but it’s hardly noticeable now.”

After over a year since the start of the renovation, Morgan Hall will re-open on October 23, 2015 coinciding with Washburn University’s 150th homecoming weekend.

“Homecoming is a time when Ichabods, both new and old, come together to celebrate their university and with that I can’t think of a more fitting time to have an opening ceremony,” Girdler said.

The renovation will deem Morgan Hall the new welcome, one-stop student center for the campus. Students will have access to admissions, financial aid, academic advising, student health and life services.

“A university campus can be overwhelming for incoming freshman,” said Patti Lyon, director of Washburn University’s Catholic Campus Center, “The more streamline you’re able to make their visit, the better off they’ll be.”

In addition, the building will include individual and group study sections. An outdoor plaza will be situated on the building’s north side facing 17th street. The exterior plaza will represent the “front door” for the university.

The building’s second floor will be comprised of a board room, offices and a conference room and informal seating areas.

All these renovation changes have cost the university 17 million dollars. Recently, a one million dollar grant was given by Jerry and Janet McElroy to assist with the renovation.

“As a student I feel very grateful that two alumni were kind enough to donate such a large sum of money towards the renovation,” Girdler said.

The McElroy’s both attended Washburn in the late 1960s. As alumni, the McElroy’s wanted their gift to not only benefit Morgan Hall’s renovation but the surrounding Topeka community as well.

“I think the renovation of Morgan Hall is a welcome change. After almost 60 years of service, it’s high time one of the campus’ main hubs joined the 21st century,” Girdler said.