Cameron University breaks ground on former student union for “Extreme Makeover – Cameron Edition”

When Cameron University relocated services from the old Student Union to the McMahon Centennial Complex in 2010, university officials seized the opportunity to re-purpose the 1962 structure and transform it into the Academic Commons, which will house a broad range of academic services. That transformation requires an “Extreme Makeover – Cameron Edition,” which officially started today during a ground-breaking ceremony.  Cameron President Cindy Ross celebrated the official physical start of the project with Cameron students, faculty and staff as well as community members who provided gifts for the Academic Commons fundraising campaign.

Mark Deyesso, a freshman from Lawton, served as host of “Extreme Makeover – Cameron Edition,” a high-energy videotaped “tour” of the structure’s transformation currently underway.   Deyesso is pursuing a Bachelor of Music Education degree.

“The Cameron University campus has been transformed with more than $55 million in construction over the past eight years,” said Ross. “Each project has been developed and completed with the goals of enhancing student learning and collegiate experience and better serving the community. We are proud to continue that transformation with the extreme makeover of the former student union, and I am excited to see the result when the Academic Commons becomes a reality for our students in Fall 2012.”

Housing a state-of-the-art computer laboratory, a student tutoring center for multiple academic disciplines, a campus-wide information technology help desk, modern classrooms and an adjunct faculty support center, the Academic Commons will join the McMahon Centennial Complex, University Library and McMahon Fine Arts Complex to form a core of centrally located buildings with extended hours of operation to better serve Cameron students and the community.

The Academic Commons will also be the new home to the Cameron Department of Communication’s cutting-edge convergence journalism option, uniting Cameron’s print, television and online production capabilities, which are currently spread across campus, in one location.

The exterior appearance of the building will be updated to match the Cameron palette, including the addition of large arched windows and entryways featuring peaked roofs. Two inviting patio spaces will also be incorporated, providing students and faculty a comfortable location to enjoy the outdoor environment.

The Academic Commons will solidify Cameron’s status as the “Location of Choice” for community events and as the “University of Choice” for students throughout Southwest Oklahoma and beyond. The Academic Commons joins other projects including the Center for Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Studies (CETES), the CETES Conference Center, Cameron Village, the School of Business Building, the McMahon Centennial Complex and the Bentley Gardens as the ongoing effort to better serve students as well as the surrounding community.

The cost to transform the 49-year-old building into the Academic Commons is just over $4 million. The university launched a fundraising campaign last spring which has raised $1.754 million to date. Lead contributors to the $2 million campaign are The McMahon Foundation, which provided $1 million; the Cameron University Foundation with a gift of $250,000; the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, which donated $100,000, and the Walton Family Foundation, which provided $25,000. Shortly after the campaign was launched, the university received a $10,000 gift from the Helen W. Holliday Foundation.

The Academic Commons will open in time for Fall 2012 classes.

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September 15, 2011

PR# 11-153