published Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Growth pushes UTC to consider expanding dining hall


by Brittany Cofer
  • photo
    Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press A student pays for his meal in the dining area of the UTC University Center on Monday afternoon. Tim McWilliams, dining services director, said, "We are talking about an expansion, but nothing is finalized."

UTC's overcrowded dining hall could get a $3.5 million makeover.

Debbie Parker, associate vice chancellor for business and finance at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said enrollment growth and an increase in students living on campus prompted administrators to seek a renovation of the Campus Crossroads dining hall.

"We've got to try to do something to ease the lines and the strain on that one facility," Ms. Parker said.

UTC Dining Services is bidding for a food services company to run the hall and bear the cost of renovations. Part of the estimated $3.5 million project will include putting a Starbucks in the library, Ms. Parker said.

No student or state money will be used to pay for the renovation, she said.

The University of Tennessee board of trustees is expected to take up the renovation at its meeting Friday in Martin, Tenn.

WHAT'S NEXT

The UT board of trustees meeting, where UTC's proposals will be made, is Friday at the UT-Martin campus.

UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell said bids from several food service companies will be back to the university by mid-March. He said companies bidding for the job are being asked to participate in the renovation, but the extent of the project depends on what the chosen company is willing to do.

Food offerings will depend on which restaurants the chosen company has contracts with, Mr. Cantrell said. That could mean some current vendors will be replaced, he said.

Ms. Parker said the State Building Commission also must approve the project. The new facility is expected to be functional by fall 2011, she said.

Jesse-Katherine Owens, a sophomore and recent transfer to UTC from Sewanee: The University of the South, said she thinks the current cafeteria is a bit small for the number of students it serves.

"But as it is now I think it's got a lot of options," she said.

Ms. Owens said she'd like to see more "home-cooked kinds of meals" if the facility is renovated.

The board of trustees also will consider a proposal to create the School of Education, which would be formed by combining the Teacher Preparation Academy and Graduate Studies Division, both within the College of Health Education and Professional Studies, said Dr. Mary Tanner, the college's dean.

"One of the things that caused me to make this decision was that the education programs were the only programs in the college that were split apart into two academic units," she said. "This simply puts them together in one academic unit."

Dr. Tanner said the change does not signal the addition or exclusion of any of the current programs.

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

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