Campus beautification project to begin in summer

Improvements come to dorms, sidewalks and bridge

Anna Bielawski, Reporter

An important factor for high school students when making a college decision is the atmosphere of the campus on which they are going to spend the next few years of their lives. A welcoming student environment, as well as a beautiful campus, can help students have a sense of belonging and pride at their university.

Known for an “accent on the individual,” Ashland University is recognized by its welcoming atmosphere and exuberant student body. The campus, however, with its broken sidewalks, dangerous walkways and outdated community spaces, does not accurately reflect the character of the university.

This is where the 2022 Campus Beautification Project comes in. Funded almost entirely by donation, the Ashland University Facilities team has just completed planning for their project, which will feature walkway renovations, updates to the bridge, and more green spaces on campus.

Patrick Ewing, vice president of operations and planning, shared the four area plans for some of these updates:

“For the first area, we’re going to focus, probably, on the area from the library to the student center–that step area where the traffic goes through. . .things are in a bit of a disrepair there. We’re really trying to bring that into a much easier way to navigate campus. We want to actually incorporate some accessibility features–kind of realign it a bit so that the Avenue of Eagles has some visual connection all the way through.”

“The [second] area looks at Claremont, all the way from the intersection, up to as far as Burger King or maybe a little bit further. Looking at the sidewalks that go along the street, maybe trying to pull those off the street a little bit so it doesn’t feel like you’re walking right next to the cars.”

In addition to the sidewalks of Claremont, Ewing mentioned that there are plans to repaint the bridge, provide better signage, and probably replace the roof.

“It’s really a gateway to campus,” Ewing said. “So we want people to be impressed and recognize that they pulled onto the Ashland campus when they come under the bridge.”

Ewing shared the next stage of the plan,

“The third area really looks at the Convocation Center, [we’re] trying to open that up a little bit, maybe create some outdoor seating in a plaza space. On the upper side, as you walk from the bridge to Amstutz, it’s going to be a lot more open, there’s going to be a drop-off from the parking lot, and then some nice step elements and retaining walls between the two.”

While not the most immediate part of the plan, Ewing also detailed a possible fourth area of renovations,

“The fourth area, which is probably less likely, is Jefferson Street. Trying to soften that up a bit as well–everything from perhaps closing it and making it just a pedestrian walkway to at least improving the pedestrian walkway. With the athletic complex, there’s so much traffic across there. I think by improving that whole area, it’s going to highlight the crosswalk and improve student safety as well through there.”

Ewing also discussed plans to replace all of the brick sidewalks on campus. This would include the walkways in the quad and in front of Founders. There are also plans to redo the commuter lot, putting in islands and striping.

Funding resources will ultimately decide which projects are pursued and completed, but Ewing is hopeful.

“The hope is that we’ll be able to get started, perhaps accomplish some of these things, through the summer. We’re kind of late in the year to be planning this kind of stuff, but we know we want to have some of these things done so that when students come back in the fall, they can see it.”

President Carlos Campo summed up the intention behind the project, stating, “I think it’s just a reflection of our commitment to the residential campus and wanting this to be a beautiful place for students.”