August 19, 2015 3:00PM
More than 250 students, faculty and staff, alumni and community members filled a portion of the Crimson and Gold Ballroom Wednesday to formally recognize the completion of the renovation and expansion of Pittsburg State University’s Overman Student Center.
Jeff Steinmiller, director of the student center, said that over the past year, as the university has opened first the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and then the Robert W. Plaster Center, it was the student center completion he looked forward to the most.
“Selfishly, I must admit that this ceremony is the one I’ve anticipated the most over the past year,” Steinmiller said. “It has nothing to do with my job title. It’s because, in my opinion, there isn’t a facility on this campus that has a deeper connection to our students.”
Steinmiller compared the student center to the living room of a home.
“Just as in your home, the living room is where you gather as a family to listen, to talk and to better understand one another,” Steinmiller said. “It’s where you recharge after a long day at the office; where you share stories of your day and where you make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Steinmiller recognized Jack Overman, the student center’s namesake who was seated in the front row, for his role in creating the first student center on campus. As a student, Steinmiller said, Overman made the construction of a student center a central part of his campaign to become student body president.
Construction began on the student center in 1950 and in 1951, Overman was hired to be its first director. In 1985, the building was rededicated and named the Jack H. Overman Student Center in honor of Overman’s 34 years of service to the university. He retired that same year.
President Steve Scott told the group that the completion of the student center put a cap on what had been a milestone year.
“We have celebrated the completion of three major construction projects, all filling an important university need, in less than nine months,” Scott said.
The president said other university leaders often ask how Pittsburg State has been able to accomplish so much in such a short time in a challenging financial landscape.
“Some ask, ‘How did you do it?’” Scott said, “to which I answer, ‘The way we do everything at Pittsburg State – together.’”
The president recalled meeting with other university leaders in 2011 to develop a strategy for completing three major projects almost simultaneously.
“We knew that in order for the Bicknell Center, the Plaster Center and the Overman Center projects to become a reality it would take the support of many different visionaries,” Scott said. “Every project was distinct but they shared one important common characteristic -- each would improve the lives of our students and of those who live in our communities.”
The president praised students for their leadership on the projects.
“A great idea is nothing without those who believe in your vision and, in this case, our students became one of our earliest public supporters,” Scott said. “In the spring of 2012 they faced a very difficult decision. Should they increase fees to help build these facilities? I’m proud to say they followed in the footsteps of the Gorillas who had come before them and provided the momentum that was needed to carry these projects forward.”
Malory White, president of the Gorilla Activities Board, and Kyle Hostetler, president of the Student Government Association, shared their excitement about opening the renovated and expanded space to students this fall.
“Most of our events take place in the Overman Student Center,” White said, “so, as you might imagine, we’re excited about this project. The additional space, the new dining areas and this amazing ballroom are going to allow us to bring activities to campus that were never before an option.”
Bill Feuerborn, a member of the Kansas Board of Regents and also a Pitt State alumnus, said he recalled playing basketball in the old gym, which was located where the student center addition now stands.
He praised the students and the campus for supporting the Overman Student Center renovation and expansion and other recent projects on campus. These things don’t happen without good leadership, Feuerborn said.
As the ceremony concluded, Steinmiller gave a signal and the folding doors to the room receded to reveal the entire Crimson and Gold Ballroom, which, he said, can accommodate up to 800.
Following the ceremony and refreshments, guests were invited to tour the new and renovated spaces of the student center and each visitor got a commemorative coin produced for the occasion.
(View the entire program.)
More about the project:
The $14 million project added almost 32,000 square feet and renovated an almost equal amount in the existing building. The Overman Student Center now encompasses about 119,000 square feet.
The project created 14 technology-filled meeting rooms and a flexible Crimson and Gold Ballroom that can accommodate up to 800.
Student offices for campus activities and student government are now highly visible and are located on the main crossroads of the first floor.
Places to relax and study are abundant on each of the three floors of the structure. Many of the pieces of furniture include USB ports for charging smartphones and tablets.
Two new food options have been added to the U-Club in the lower level. They are Einstein Brothers Bagel Co. and Holy Habernero.
Overman Student Center rededication attendees honor Jack Overman, alumnus and former student center director, for whom the building is named.