Old West Pine Gym ‘goes global,’ offers new space for students

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Two years after the installation of dozens of international flags atop the roof of Saint Louis University’s Bauman-Eberhardt Center, significant renovations to the building’s interior have begun.

The Bauman-Eberhardt Center and its recently renovated neighbor, Des Peres Hall, will comprise the Center for Global Citizenship. In his August message to SLU, President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., announced that the building will include a “Global Student Commons and a 1,000-plus-seat, high-tech auditorium.”

Originally built in 1928, the Bauman-Eberhardt Center, formerly known as the West Pine Gym, had played host to student registration and distinguished lectures, including a 1964 address from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prior to the Department of Athletics move to Chaifetz Arena, the building was home to SLU athletics. The last sporting event there was a women’s basketball game in February 2008. Since then, the court itself has been used infrequently while various departments, including the Honors Program and Student Educational Services, have resided in the offices under the bleachers.

Renovations to the building will include an interior bridge that will connect the east and west sides of the building and a café carved out of the east-side bleachers. According to Kent Proterfield, the Vice President for Student Development, the café will be operated by Chartwells and will offer hot and cold sandwiches, soup and beverages from different cultures, such as Mediterranean or South American.

In addition, renovated offices in the Bauman-Eberhardt Center will house three departments with a global focus. The Cross Cultural Center will be relocated from the Busch Student Center into space in the Center for Global Citizenship.

LaTanya Buck, who directs the Cross Cultural Center, believes the new location will make the center more accessible and convenient to students and allow it more flexibility in the programs it offers.

The Center for Intercultural Studies and the Center for Service and Community Engagement will also move into the Bauman-Eberhardt Center. While Des Peres Hall and the Bauman-Eberhardt Center are not physically attached, Porterfield left open the possibility of adding an outdoor patio to connect the hall to the updated center.

With the details of the student commons still being worked out, Porterfield said the University is looking into having furniture samples brought to campus for students to test out and provide feedback, similar to the process led by the Student Government Association last November prior to the renovation of Pius XII Memorial Library.

Long-term, Porterfield views the Center for Global Citizenship as a “cultural marketplace” and a potential venue for ATLAS Week events, World Cup watch parties and spontaneous student gatherings during world events.

“What we do with the space will ultimately define its success as the Center for Global Citizenship,” said Porterfield.

According to Dr. Paaige Turner, Associate Vice President for Academic and International Affairs, the new center has an “iconic and physical presence,” which she attests represents SLU’s commitment to the centrality of a global economy, a global world and global citizenship.

“A global citizen is a responsible citizen in the Jesuit tradition who cares about others, connecting the local and the global,” Porterfield said.

He also said a global citizen is one who seeks to deepen their cultural understanding, something he hopes will be achieved with the updated building.

“The buildings has the potential for completely transforming the life of the campus with dedicated attention to the issues of our world,” said Assistant Vice President for Student Development, Ray Quirolgico.

In Biondi’s message, he announced further plans “to launch several new academic, research and service programs.”

Chief among those, according to Turner, is the development of a “Global Citizenship Proficiency” that is currently in progress. The program would feature curricular and co-curricular components and appear on students’ transcripts to indicate a level of global awareness and competency. Additionally, Turner highlighted innovative courses, such as Global Health, and a summer immersion program for16- to 18-year-old international students.

Senior Jessica Boyle questioned the University’s prioritization of this project.

“We need to renovate for more classrooms, not offices,” Boyle said.  “You’ve got to get down to the root of what the University is, and that’s learning.”

Turner disagreed. “Learning happens everywhere all the time,” she said.

Renovations are set to be completed by May 2013.