Pittsburg State recently completed its new master plan, which will give the university a 10-year vision going forward of which buildings will get new additions and which additions will be new buildings.

Pittsburg State recently completed its new master plan, which will give the university a 10-year vision going forward of which buildings will get new additions and which additions will be new buildings.

But in a conversation with The Morning Sun, Pittsburg State president Steve Scott said that the priorities have already been set for which projects would be pushed the most, but that should not be confused with the sequence of construction.

In particular, Scott described as among his top priorities the fine and performing arts center, with a price tag of about $30 million, and the event center, with a price tag of about $11.5 million.

“Right now, our focus is the fine and performing arts center. That is probably the most critical,” Scott said. “Then the events center. Those are our top two. We know what we can get done quickly is depending on the donor support we get. They might want to fund the nursing expansion first instead. That might alter the sequence, but not our priorities.

The beauty of the master plan is we’ve identified what we think can get done, and what we need to get done over the next decade.”

The fine and performing arts center, which has been at least in some plans for Pitt State since the 1970s, is at the forefront of this master plan. The plan is to locate the center south of the Weede. The first complete renderings of the building should be finished by mid-July, with a big push expected to come this fall. The university has already received a $10 million pledge for the project.

“That’s addressing a deficit. We haven’t had a facility like that since 1980,” Scott said. “We desperately need it. I think the region deserves it. That is not so much growth-driven, though it will help attract students.”

Attached to the performing arts center is plans for a business development center/conference building.

But the second of Scott’s top two priorities is a new events center, which would be an expansion off the Weede to the east. This project would include an indoor track, but would also house conventions and trade shows, Scott anticipated.

“This could allow us to host an NCAA regional or national meet,” Scott said. “We would have the quality of facility to do that. We are speaking to the group that oversees the national junior college association to hold these types of competitive events. At the Division II level, there are only a handful of these in the country. This would leapfrog us into the top facilities. We are already there in football. This would broadly put us on the map.”

These two projects, which would include more than $40 million in construction, are expected to put greater demand on to Quincy Street, particularly after events. That has caused the city to look into widening or at least improving the Quincy Street corridor near Pittsburg State. Scott said that Pittsburg State had been working with the city to make future plans.

“Broadway to Joplin is our greatest interest,” Scott said. “We have 6,700 students on campus every day. That’s a lot of traffic on campus. We applaud the efforts of the city and are working on addressing that.”

The plans also include a pair of new buildings near the Kansas Technology Center, as well as a heavy equipment training area planned across the railroad tracks from the Student Recreation Center. North of that will be soccer and baseball fields, moved to make way for the performing arts center.

However, while that is expanding into land that had been relatively little touched, Scott said the master plan still includes a great deal of effort to be more green.

“I don’t know that green translates to leave everything alone,” he said. “That was all pasture land. What we want is to be extremely responsible when we expand in space. We will have a new quad, and lots of green areas and landscaping. I don’t think expansion and being green run counter to each other.”

The plan also includes expanding to the north, which will likely require purchasing houses north of the campus starting at Kelce and ending at Grubbs Hall. However, Scott said the university would not be aggressive in pursuing those properties.

“We are not in a hurry. We’ve never been in a hurry,” Scott said. “We will look for opportunities to buy in this area. It’s not methodical, it’s not linear, starting at one end and ending at the other. We will watch as property comes available, assess, and be responsible in acquiring it. It’s helpful to let policymakers, regents, and alumni know that we do have a plan, and we do have a direction.”

The university is already beginning to put some of the results from the master plan into place. For instance, Scott said the university would begin a study of space utilization on campus, which was recommended by the master plan. That will involve, Scott said, looking at classrooms that hold 90 students, and considering cutting them in half to provide two rooms of the size that the university needs.

The executive staff of the university is also holding monthly meetings to see what progress has been made on the master plan.

“My intention is not to allow this to be put on the shelf. Every month, we will revisit it, and talk about the progress we’ve made,” Scott said.

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.