25, No. 12, Dec. 15, 2005
Affairs will continue to manage Assembly Hall
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will retain administrative
control of Assembly Hall, but the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics
will oversee plans to renovate the facility and raising the funds to
make those refurbishments happen, under a new arrangement announced
by Chancellor Richard Herman recently.
Herman, who had considered giving DIA full control over Assembly Hall
as was recommended in a 2003 study, said that feedback from students
had persuaded him that administrative control of the facility need not
be changed if he could ensure that the planning and fundraising for
the renovation program proceeded.
The study recommended that DIA assume administrative responsibility
for Assembly Hall because DIA would be better equipped to raise the
$60 million to 70 million needed. The renovations, which include installing
air conditioning, expanding the lobby, upgrading patron seats and adding
more restrooms and concession facilities, would make the aging facility
more competitive in booking events and compliant with safety and accessibility
codes, the study said.
Herman’s decision was “responsive to the students’
petition” and they were satisfied that Student Affairs would retain
control over programming at Assembly Hall, said William Riley, interim
vice chancellor for student affairs. “We’ll continue to
be very supportive of and responsive to DIA’s needs to use Assembly
Hall maximally but still be able to bring programs that are important
to students and the community.”
However, with several other higher-priority construction and renovation
projects that also entail raising private funds – including $145
million in renovations to Memorial Stadium – it may be two or
three years before fundraising begins for the Assembly Hall project.
“It may be more important then to look at where Assembly Hall
is administratively when (Athletic Director Ron Guenther) is out there
talking to people about putting money into the project,” Riley
said. “Creating the architectural drawings and deciding what ought
to be done with it can go on in the interim.”
The Illinois Student Senate and the Assembly Hall Advisory Committee
voiced strong opposition to the proposal to transfer administrative
control of Assembly Hall to DIA. Students said that they feared that
DIA would be less responsive to their interests and would make Assembly
Hall solely a sports venue, offering less cultural programming.
Students also were concerned about the possibility of a fee hike to
fund the renovation program. Part of the general fee that students pay
each semester supports Assembly Hall and other auxiliary service units,
such as the Division of Campus Recreation and McKinley Health Center.
The general fee, which applies to all students and cannot be waived,
is $211 per semester for the fall 2005 and spring 2006 semesters, $68
of which goes to Assembly Hall.