Campus changes evident as academic year begins
(Aug. 23, 1996)
As teams of construction crews continued their last-minute grind and polish on projects representing ECU's most prolific building boom in two decades, classes started on Aug. 21.
Earlier in the week and over the weekend, the campus had braced itself for the onslaught of cars, trucks, vans and trailers moving students back to town for the fall semester. Despite the flurry, it was smooth sailing. Besides, it was only a little more than a month ago that the campus faced another whirlwind -- Hurricane Bertha -- that took down some trees and created delays in some of the construction projects but otherwise caused little damage.
When the dust settles on this week's commotion, University officials predict an enrollment of about 17,500 students. Tom Powell, the campus's admissions director, says the number of freshmen will be up slightly while the enrollment of transfer students will likely decline.
"The total enrollment will be about the same as last year," he said.
The formal activities began on Monday when members of the faculty met in Wright Auditorium for the annual Faculty Convocation. The program featured talks by administrators and a special recognition ceremony to pay tribute to the individuals chosen for teaching and advising awards.
New faculty got their bearings during an orientation session on Tuesday. The session in Mendenhall Student Center prompted the university to run a special shuttle service from the Minges Coliseum parking lots because of fewer parking spaces near Mendenhall.
The construction projects combined with ECU's gradual move towards the development of a pedestrian campus -- called for in the master plan -- has prompted concern over the availability of parking for the ECU community. Spaces close to classrooms and offices are in high demand.
University officials say the reopening of construction zones will relieve some of the parking congestion in the central campus. In addition, new lots have opened and others are under construction. Most notable are the new parking lots at the Belk Allied Health Science Building, in the downtown area near the Willis Building and at west campus medical complex.
The campus bus service runs regular routes from the outlying parking areas near Allied Heath and the athletic complex to the central campus. A new bus shuttle route will make regular runs from the athletic complex to Mendenhall Student Center.
NEW SIGHTS ON CAMPUS
There are some major changes on campus this fall. Among them is the new library addition which is now open after nearly two years of construction. Library staff will conduct daily tours of the new facility, by appointment, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The second phase of the project, the renovation of the original library facility, is underway.
Another new building, the Student Recreation Center, did not open when the fall semester's bell rang on Wednesday. But, the finishing touches are in progress and the building is expected to open within a few weeks. The contractor for the project will turn over the keys to ECU on Sept. 24.
The campus mall has changed dramatically since last spring. It is no longer a circular drive. Instead, the street nearest the library and the student health service (Alumni Way) is closed to traffic and is slated to become a pedestrian walkway. Faculty Way, the street on the other side of the mall behind three of the campus's oldest residence halls, has been altered from one-way to two-way traffic.
On the mall itself is a new piece of construction that is destined to become a campus landmark -- the cu