- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The University of Mississippi will begin a four-year, $50 million renovation and expansion of its Student Union this summer.

WCBI-TV reported (https://bit.ly/1g7CbwF) the project will include a larger dining area, new student government offices, a ballroom, conference space and other amenities.

A university committee spent years studying ways to upgrade the building, visiting student unions at Auburn University, Louisiana State University and others.

Ultimately, the committee decided to renovate the existing Ole Miss Student Union, but also to increase its size from 97,000 square feet to about 157,000 square feet, said Leslie Banahan, the university’s assistant vice chancellor for student affairs.

“It’s going to dramatically improve what we can offer our students,” Banahan said. “There will be an incredible synergy, a large work space so students can collaborate together and a dedicated space for students to meet. We’re going to have space to allow us to host a comedian’s performance, or a lecture or a musical act. It’ll be a dedicated area where we can have concerts or step shows. This new renovated and expanded Student Union will become the true heart of the campus.”

The renovations call for a new Associated Student Body Senate chamber with theater-style seating that can be used for other events, she said. Plans also include an approximately 8,000-square foot ballroom.

Other amenities include new student lounge areas, new administrative offices and possibly new retail space. The project will be handled in phases over about four years.

The bookstore and food court inside the Student Union will remain open throughout construction.

Among other changes, the on-campus post office will close.

“It’s just part of the complete renovated Union process,” said Clayton Jones, assistant vice chancellor and director of human resources and contractual services. “I think the important thing is we’re going to still have mail to the departments and mail to our students.”

The 10,000-square-foot post office will close on June 30. The student housing department will deliver mail and packages to students who live in residence halls, and university employees will continue to receive business mail.

The first-floor lobby of Crosby Hall will become a mail and package center to serve students who live in residence halls.

The university is in talks with Pitney Bowes setting up operating systems there, said student housing director Lionel Maten.

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Information from: WCBI-TV, https://www.wcbi.com

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