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CSU-Pueblo breaks ground at OUC for renovations

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The Occhiato University Center | Photo courtesy of csupueblo.edu
The Occhiato University Center | Photo courtesy of csupueblo.edu

Administrators at Colorado State University-Pueblo broke ground at the Occhiato University Center Oct. 7 for renovations of the 41-year-old building. Students, faculty, alumni and others who will be impacted by the renovation gathered at the OUC, just outside by the doors of the existing ballroom.

President Lesley Di Mare led the group to break ground, using a golden shovel. After a few introductions, details about the process were announced to the crowd.

“When we saw the design electronically, only then did we realize what a magnificent structure this will be,” said Karl Spiecker, a member of the leadership team and Vice President for Finance and Administration.

“The new ballroom will be with a much higher ceiling and about 10 percent larger than the current ballroom,” Spiecker said. “That will take about 14 months. After December of 2016, then the renovation will occur in the existing one hundred and ten thousand square feet.”

While the building is under construction, Spiecker said, “we will not disrupt service to the campus.” Several offices, the student bookstore, the ballroom, classrooms and the cafeteria are located in the OUC.

“The new ballroom will serve as the bookstore and it will also serve as the dining hall for residents in the residential halls,” he said.

Soon, the electronic design will be available to students and the community to view for a better idea of what the building will look like.

“The new student center is going to shape our students and our campus for years to come,” said Sarah Zarr, president of the Associated Students’ Government. “It is going to shape who the students become and who we become as a university.”

“It will shape our atmosphere of our campus and create a better a culture. It will shape how the past students who took a stand to do something for future generations of students by showing them that they made a difference,” she said.

In the beginning stages, students voted on whether or not the renovation should take place. It will be funded almost entirely with mandatory student fees. The exception to this funding is the addition of an auditorium, which will be funded by a donation from the CSU-Pueblo Foundation.