CARBONDALE, IL (WSIL) -- After more than 20 years of trying to make improvements SIU leaders are finally getting the chance to upgrade the communications building.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced $8.3 million in funding to start the process of renovating and expanding the building. Eventually, the project will involve $83 million in improvements to create a state of the art facility.
Mackenzie Rosario is a junior at SIU. She won't get to benefit from that major upgrade on the Carbondale campus, but she's excited about what it could mean to future students.
"SIU is a very special school that a lot of people just don't know about. So maybe if we have an up to date facility and a lot of students can come and actually check out what we have. They'll decide to come, and hopefully, it will help them in their careers," Rosario said.
The communications building was built in 1964.
WHAT IS HAPPENING EXACTLY?
According to details released by Governor Pritzker's administration:
The project will extensively remodel the 229,050 square foot building, and add approximately 60,000 square feet of space to support interdisciplinary learning. In addition to the infrastructure improvements and equipment upgrades in the current building, the addition will provide new classroom space, fully equipped and flexible auditorium space, laboratory rooms, digital post-production suites, and reflect the growing trend toward media convergence in a combined broadcast-print newsroom.
LOCAL LEADERS REACT
Former SIU President Glenn Poshard started looking at upgrades to the communications building 20 years ago but snags in Springfield meant funding was never there--until now. He and other leaders say the improvements will offer a boost for years to come.
"It's those other students out there in high school now that are going to come here to a beautiful facility. It's going to help this university increase its enrollment and that's what's really important," Poshard said.
"So this communications building is just another caveat that we will have the opportunity to go out and boast throughout the Midwest and the nation about all the opportunities that SIU has to offer," said Senator Dale Fowler (R-59th District).
Governor Pritzker spent Tuesday afternoon in Carbondale and said now is the time to reverse a multi-billion dollar backlog in improvement projects at college campuses across Illinois.
"Its the duty of all of us here, especially our elected officials, to give our young people the tools that they need to shape their own futures and to reach for their dreams," said Governor Pritzker.
Local representatives from both sides of the political aisle say the governor's visit shows the needs of the region are not going unnoticed.
"Exciting day for SIU and the people of southern Illinois. To see the state of Illinois sees the needs of the university of SIU and the people of southern Illinois. So it is an exciting day for us," said Representative Dave Severin (R-117th District).
"The reconstruction of the Communications Building will give our students an even greater advantage in preparing them for the workforce. And, it will allow our faculty to teach in state-of-the-art facilities which will be a tremendous draw for future students for years to come," said SIU Board of Trustees Chairman J. Phil Gilbert.
Leaders also believe the upgrades to the communications building will allow them to be set up for the future.
"Advances in technology have had a profound impact on the programs which are housed in the building, including cinema and photography, journalism, and radio, television, and digital media. The addition will allow for future changes in technology through innovative design and the creation of flexible work areas.," Gilbert said.