What's the Future of Wilson Hall?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- For more than 70 years, liberal arts students at ASU have called Wilson Hall "home".  On Saturday September 27th a groundbreaking ceremony was held at ASU for a new Liberal Arts Building.

Sammy Gennuso has taught English for more than forty years at ASU.  He's seen a lot of changes in the building and understands the need for change.

"Our classrooms are ok.  They're passable.  They're not state of the art or up to date," said Gennuso.

Chancellor Robert Potts said while they are thrilled about the future of a new building, there are no plans to tear down Wilson Hall.

"The plans are to maintain Wilson Hall but in a revised form and do renovations for it," said Potts.

Built in 1932, the building is one that almost every student has had at least one class in over the years.

ASU Construction Manager Terry Carty said it would cost more to get the building up to all of the required codes than it would to build the new building.

"We want to find a use for it because it is not built to current earthquake standards.  For example, that will not involve high volumes of people in it like there are now," said Potts.

Wilson Hall has housed a lot of different things over the years including the library, theatre, post office, Wigwam Cafeteria, administration offices, and bookstore.

In the future the building could be transformed into offices or even be placed on the historic registry.

In planning for the future, the new Liberal Arts Building will be built where Caraway Road used to run through campus.  Ground has been broken at the site, but no official construction date is set.

"It's an act of faith since we don't have but a portion of the funding that we'll need, so we hope that the legislature or the governor will look kindly on this project since it's been so many years in the making," said Potts.

The cost of the new building is around 34 million dollars.  Chancellor Potts said they have not been guaranteed any funding other than the $4 million they recently got from the state.  If the school doesn't get the money needed for a new building, then liberal arts students may continue to call Wilson Hall "home" for several more years.