Campus Evolution

The constant hassle of having to dodge the construction around campus can get annoying.

During the last four years the University has physically evolved with additions of major buildings made possible by projects like Keeping the Faith Campaign.

However, freshman engineering major Zach Lee says all change is worth it in the end if it means that it will unify the campus while strengthening the name of John Brown University.

Though Lee is new to the college experience, he is eager to get his hands dirty with the latest top of the line equipment, all found within the four walls of the Balzer Technology Center.

Before settling on John Brown University, the Kentucky native toured many other schools. His number one goal was to find a Christian school with a strong engineering program that would give him the skills he needs for the future. It was through an alumni recommendation that he heard of a small school in Arkansas and decided to check it out.

“I toured a lot of schools before coming [here], including state schools that were larger than but not as advanced as us,” Lee explained.
“For our small size, it’s really great to get to work in a nice building that has all the new technology.”
The $11 million project included an anonymous lead gift of $8 million that helped build the new home of the engineering and construction management majors. It is one of many new additions senior Aubrey Cole has witnessed in the last four years.

Goodbye North, hello Hutch

When Cole enrolled in 2009, she said the campus did not have a lot of construction going like it does now. At the time Cole was a freshman living in east wing of Hutcheson Hall, or what was back then known as “North Hall.”

According to a past press release, North Hall was completed in two phases, the first one being completed in 2004 when it opened up its doors to students. Fast forward four years to the second phase which finished the west wing due to a generous gift from Bill and Dee Hutcheson.

In the same press release André Broquard, dean of students and director of residence life, said though the dorm received a new name, Hutcheson Hall would continue to be “a great place of belonging, fun, challenge and support.”

While the campus has evolved and the favorite hall has received a name change Cole says she has no hurt feelings by the way the campus is expanding.

“I think the growth of the campus is great,” she expressed. “Every facility that has been built since I have been here has been constructed out of necessity for students.”

From cinderblock to limestone

Freshman Julia Smith said she also does not oppose the University expanding to fit the need of a growing campus.

“I think keeping tradition is great especially when it comes to preserving things like architectural integrity,” she said. “Though the construction can get a little bit annoying sometimes, the school does it to maintain the campus unity.”

She said she had visited the campus many times and remembers being blown away by the beauty of the campus. Now as an English major, Smith says she spends most of her time in the Cathedral of the Ozarks, where all but one of her classes takes place.

As part of the Keeping the Faith Campaign, the Cathedral group, composed of the cathedral and both art buildings, received a facelift to update the outside surfaces. In 2007, the project ended after each building traded in the dark cinderblock look for John Brown Sr.’s vision of a limestone covering.

Lights, camera, action!

It was the same campaign that made it possible for senior Becca Ridings to display her theatrical talents on a larger stage when the Berry Performing Arts Center opened for the 2010 fall semester.

Before the 500-seat auditorium was available, Ridings remembers performing in the much smaller Jones Recital Hall. Though the plays felt more intimate because of the small size of the theater, Ridings said it was odd transitioning from a large high school with a strong theatrical program to the small stage the University had to offer.

With the addition of the BPAC, Ridings says she has seen the department grow and become more able to take on advanced plays such as last semester’s “The Three Musketeers.”

“It feels great to perform in front of a larger crowd in a building that has all the requirements as far as technology needed to put on a good show,” she said.

A multipurpose court

The campus also welcomes a new gymnasium, the Bill George Arena, in Fall 2010. The arena has served not only to host indoor games, but also to welcome speakers such as evangelist Franklin Graham and TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie.

Before the addition of the arena, senior Megan Tabor remembers working the concession stand in the old Murray Sells Gym. She recalled how the stand was located in the far corner of the gym, right beside the bleachers.

“The problem with that was if there was a line of people waiting to get their food then we could not see what was going on during the game,” she said.

Now the new arena has not one but two concession stands, which helps alleviate the traffic.

Lending a helping hand

Tabor also said that apart from the building, she has seen the school change by making everyday activities simpler for those who are handicapped.

“There is definitely more capability and handicap features in the new gym, such as elevators and types of handles, something the old gym did not have to offer.”

In her four years, Ridings has also seen how the school has transformed into a zero landfill campus. Going green was something she noticed when she first arrived at the school after spending time in Europe.

“[Europeans] do a lot for as far as their green energy. I was surprised when I got to campus how little we did compared to them.”

Since then more than 50 percent of the University’s trash is recycled, and the rest is compacted and incinerated with no emission. According to a press release, the school has also become more green by conserving water, electricity and gas, which all help in reducing the carbon footprint.