Before celebrating a win at its first home football game of the season, Fort Hays State University commemorated the completion of one of three new buildings on campus, the third such ceremony since students returned to campus for the 2017-18 academic year.
The university Thursday afternoon dedicated Victor E. Village, the $27 million, four-story, 110,000-square-foot replacement for Wiest Hall, whose tower is undergoing deconstruction.
The second residence hall opened this academic year, Tiger Village and the Center for Applied Technology and Sculpture will be dedicated during homecoming activities next month. The Robbins Banking Institute and Alex Francis Track were dedicated in August.
A section of Dwight Drive was closed for part of the afternoon in front of the residence hall, with a crowd gathering out front for the ceremony.
Among the speakers was Brad DeMers, one of the more than 400 students to move into the hall last month. The Osceola, Neb., freshman said he was excited about the experience of the dorm’s living-learning communities.
FHSU has had learning communities that group students of similar interests since 2010, but Victor E. Village is the first residence hall designed around them. Learning communities include Artful Minds for those interested in art, Go Global! for those interested in international studies and culture, and Tiger Traditions for those interested in the history and traditions of FHSU.
“Living in my Live, Learn, Lead learning community has been a blessing to me in many ways. The bonds, memories and knowledge gained from the learning community has made the decision of joining one an easy one,” DeMers said.
He talked about how he and some of the other members of his community bonded over the purchase of two “premium” couches they found for $50.
“What a deal. Now let’s just say R.J. (Schnack), the hall director, was not too pleased with this, but nevertheless, in the last three weeks we created bonds over these couches and it already feels like one big ol’ happy family,” DeMers said.
DeMers said the new building is the start of new era for FHSU.
“With this new dorm comes brand new traditions, traditions that will hopefully stay with Victor E. Village for its lifetime just like Wiest had. How exciting is that, to someday come back to campus and see the traditions that you started still happening?” he said.
Student Government Association President Emily Brandt talked about how the hall’s 17 learning communities, which place students together based on interests, expose them to people with a variety of backgrounds — geography, socioeconomic, nationality, religion, culture and values.
“It doesn’t matter because they are all residents of Victor E. Village. They all share that in common, and they all become peers,” she said.
“These walls surround students with the biggest and brightest dreams, goals and ambitions, and there is nothing they cannot achieve because (residential) life is supporting them,” she said.
Other speakers at the ceremony were Christina Hurtado, director of residential life, Joey Linn, vice president of Student Affairs, and Interim President Andy Tompkins.
After a ribbon cutting at the front entrance, the crowd was invited into the lobby for tours of the first floor, where they could see common areas of the residence hall. Each floor has study rooms and a kitchen, and each learning community has a central lounge and bathrooms.
Landscaping still is continuing on the south side of the building. When the demolition of Wiest Hall is completed, construction will begin on a parking lot for 300 vehicles that should be finished in the spring.