Morehouse Hall is one of Drake’s seven residence halls. The university has been working on plans to transform the hall into a building that includes offices and spaces for student organizations.
Chief Student Affairs Officer Jerry Parker said there is no timeline set for the start of construction, and funding for the renovation has not yet been secured. He mentioned inflation’s impact on prices.
“A lot of [the timeline is] going to depend on our success of fundraising and cost control,” Parker said.
Parker said Morehouse would have spaces for student organizations and student life offices. He said Drake wants Morehouse to have “a functional area where organizations can come together.” Organizations could hold meetings, work on programs and work with staff members in these spaces.
He said there would be dedicated spaces for multicultural organizations, governance organizations and some chartered organizations.
“We want to make sure this space is open to all organizations but also have dedicated spaces, specifically for our multicultural organizations,” Parker said.
Under the renovation, Morehouse would be made accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act and have gender-neutral bathrooms, according to Mattison. Drake would install an elevator in the building, Parker said over email.
Morehouse is one of two residence halls that are not handicap accessible for every floor, according to Drake’s website. The lack of an elevator poses an obstacle for students who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids or who have a short-term disabling injury.
Mattison said that even without Morehouse, Drake would have enough space for students in the other residence halls and the new Campus Suites at Dogtown.
Drake may also see renovation of Olmsted, Fine Arts Center
Drake’s $225 million fundraising campaign, “The Ones,” includes plans to renovate and expand on the Olmsted Center in the University Center initiative.
Parker said Drake wanted Morehouse to complement the University Center, and that it’s difficult to pack everything into one building.
“We see this as a great opportunity to be in close proximity to the University Center but yet still [have] that functional space for student life organizations, student leadership as well as our personnel,” Parker said.
Theater professor John Pomeroy said in March that the University Center plans include a new performing arts space with spaces for classrooms and rehearsal, Times-Delphic previously reported. Pomeroy was one of the faculty and staff members involved with the University Center project.
Mattison said that hopefully there will be a large naming gift to have the performing arts center, “and then we can do something with FAC.”
Pomeroy said in March that it would be “extraordinarily difficult” to renovate the Fine Arts Center because of the programs that take place there.
“I think the hope is that [the Fine Arts Center renovation is able to key off immediately after the opening of the new performing arts venue,” Pomeroy said in March.
Parker said over email that last spring and into this fall, Drake held focus groups for representatives from student groups and respective departments that focused on “their space needs that were not specific to any one building.” He said that specific to Morehouse, Drake is planning to hold additional focus groups, which will hopefully take place by the end of the semester.
Parker thinks Drake will be able to provide more details on the Morehouse renovation in the coming weeks and months. He said Drake is still going through the design of what the renovation would look like.
Parker said that Drake is “really focusing on getting the schematics, renderings, [and] looking at space allocation in order to present something to prospective donors that would like to support this project.”