Along with other Homecoming festivities, Tennessee Wesleyan University will officially unveil its newest feature, the Colloms Campus Center, this weekend.
Wesleyan will host a formal ribbon cutting for the 30,000 square-foot building that now sits on the corner of Green and College streets at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
The Colloms Campus Center — which will be accessible to students 24 hours daily — will not only be an asset to the campus, but to the community.
The building will host a cornucopia of student activities, provide extended hours for a variety of services, centralize the Student Life department, as well as offer the public a reservable event venue and the chance to dine at its restaurant.
The Campus Center will also include meeting and study rooms, a game center, a bookstore, a computer lab, a veterans’ lounge, and general seating on each floor as well as outside.
Scott Mashburn, student life vice president, explained that the multipurpose building has been efficiently designed to maximize camaraderie and opportunity.
“We really want to build a sense of community and a space for community to occur,” said Mashburn. “There’s very little space in the building that won’t be able to be a student hang out or utilized for socialization and collaboration for academics and those kinds of things.”
According to Mashburn, Tennessee Wesleyan and the designer of the building, Jim Winer, made a “concentrated effort to make (Colloms) accessible for any visitor to the campus and community member.”
Similarly, TWU President Dr. Harley Knowles spoke about the center as an ongoing bridge to facilitate successful relationships.
“We wanted to create a special place for student community and Athens’ community,” said Knowles.“The Colloms Campus Center is a wonderful community building which will continue to enhance the lifelong relationships that we want to build.”
Among the spaces on the ground floor is “Burkett’s,” the center’s restaurant dedicated to Dr. Burkett Witt, former mayor of Athens, City Council member, entrepreneur, and TWU Honorary Doctorate recipient.
Like the restaurant, the Johnson Event Center upstairs — which can seat up to 300 people — will be available for public usage. The event center, made possible by the George R. Johnson Family Foundation, can be booked in entirety and can also break down into three separate rooms.
Because the Colloms Campus Center exists largely as a result of collective donations, many of the donors have rooms named after them and other spaces like bricks and rocking chairs showcase names of contributors.
Additionally, the campus center features a plaque displaying Wesleyan’s timeline of existence, which Randy Nelson, vice president of advancement, said is important because it highlights the university’s identity and captures “the story of TWU throughout the years.”
Because many rooms are now streamlined into the Colloms Campus Center, the move allows for repurposing soon to be vacant spaces on campus, which Wesleyan officials said will allow for future expansions, like additional classrooms.
President of the Student Government Association, Trent Mansfield, expressed a similar perspective to Knowles and Mashburn.
“It will be a place for Tennessee Wesleyan students and the Athens community to engage and form a closer bond than ever before,” said Mansfield.
Ariel Caldwell, a junior business administration major, said, “I am very excited for what the new building will have to offer the new students. I am most excited about the study rooms that will be 24 hours and also the new restaurant. I can’t wait to see all the new variety of food they will have for students to choose from.”
Wesleyan officials said they are excited to use Homecoming as an opportunity to recognize the donors, progress, and provide a “sneak peak” of the tapestry that is the Colloms Campus Center.
Although this weekend marks the grand opening, the building is not expected to fully open until after Thanksgiving, according to Mashburn.
For questions about donating to the center, visit the website online at www.tnwesleyan.edu/give or call 423-746-5330.