As spring semester classes ended and students cleared out dorm rooms, faculty and staff located in the Turley Center had cleaning out to do of their own. Beginning this summer the Turley Center will undergo substantial renovation in order to create the Student Access and Success Center, which, when completed, will be the only center of its kind in the area.
The project will be overseen by architects Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff and Goettel and consist of a complete interior gutting of the building back to its bare structure. All existing mechanical and electrical systems will be removed. New office partitioning, along with new ceiling and floor finishes, will be installed throughout the facility. All new plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems will also be installed. The entire renovation process is expected to be completed in the fall of 2013 at a total cost of $6 million.
The center’s focus will be to aid efforts to recruit and retain students and to help them succeed with their academic degree program to graduation. The intention is to give students one central location where they can find all the support services they need. The idea is to create an all access building that will again become the hub of student academic life on campus.
Dr. Quentin Johnson, Sr. Vice President of Student and Enrollment Services for Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College, calls the upcoming renovation project a model for colleges and universities across the country to use in planning student service centers on their campuses.
"Creating a culture of student success is what this renovation is all about," Dr. Johnson stated, "This will be a state-of-the-art one stop shop where students will experience an immediate change in the service component of the college experience. The Student Access and Success Center will impact students from their first day on campus through the day they graduate. Financial aid, academic advising, career support services, counseling, admissions, disability services, veterans affairs, and all other services students interact and engage in will be in one place; students will no longer have to run all over campus to access the services they require- all of them will be housed in one area."
This latest renovation has been in the planning stages for some time. During the 2009 Special Session, the state Legislature approved reauthorization of the Education, Arts, Science and Tourism (EAST) Bonds with debt service to be funded using Lottery revenue. Governor Manchin forwarded a list of 45 projects approved during the July 15, 2010, meeting of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority. On July 23, 2010, the state HEPC approved capital projects funding. The Turley Center renovation is one of those projects.
While the renovation will be substantial, the original mission of the Turley Center will once again be front and center, to offer support and resources for our students. In 1947, a student suggested that the college should have a place for students to relax and purchase snacks for a nickel a piece. The student’s request was granted, and a room was made available in the west end of Hardway Hall (then known as the Administration Building). The Big Nickel was an immediate success with the students, faculty, and staff. The students overflowed from the initial room provided to them and booths were placed in the hallway to accommodate them. The need for a student union building became clear, and work began to obtain funding for construction of the facility.
On October 18, 1959, The Fairmont State College Student Center was officially opened to the public with an informal dedication ceremony. The building provided a ballroom, recreation room, conference room, small auditorium and other leisure-time facilities, as well as a large main-floor snack bar dubbed by students as The Nickel. The College Student Center, cutting edge for its time with a "floating" floor in the ballroom and rheostat regulators for the lights, cost a total of $317,000 to complete.
Through the years, the building has seen its share of minor renovations. In 1968 an addition to the facility doubled its usable space. In 1976 The Nickel was updated and a pub was added for the sale of beer. In 1978 both decks were covered due to problems with rain leaks. In 1980 the College Student Center was renamed in honor of George H. Turley, Professor of Speech, Theatre and English, to honor his lifetime devotion to the quality of student life.
The original College Student Center evolved from a student idea that found support among faculty, staff, and administration. Through all of its stages, it has been at the heart of student activities, and has been a service to the Fairmont community as well. From campus parties to open houses, job fairs, banquets, and community events — this building has seen it all! Since its opening day ceremony, Turley has been, and will continue to be, the center of student success at Fairmont State University.
About this story: This story, written by Nita Coleman '10, was featured in the Summer 2011 edition of maroon & white. Click here to view this edition. To request a paper copy contact Beth Martin at (304) 367-4009.