By Luke Williamson
Stronger, Truer Sewanee,” the University’s ambitious fundraising effort, is nearly 84 percent complete towards its goal of raising $250 million dollars. The construction for the bookstore is projected to begin in the summer of 2018. Once construction is finished, the “Stronger, Truer Sewanee” campaign will fix its energies on fundraising for the new Wellness Center, which will be built where the Bookstore is now.
Centered upon four basic goals, support for students, for academics, for the campus, and for the School of Theology, Sewanee’s fundraiser was conceived in the spirit of realizing its own potential.
Quoted on the fundraiser’s website, Vice-Chancellor John McCardell explains, “The campaign priorities are designed not to make Sewanee like some other place, but rather a stronger, truer version of its essential self.”
Central changes to campus constitute this stronger, truer version, including the movement of the Sewanee Bookstore downtown, and the renovation of the Bookstore to facilitate a new health and wellness center.
In a step towards lessening the divide within the often referenced phrase “Town vs. Gown,” the Bookstore will be moved outside of central campus. Often criticized by community members of Sewanee for its secluded nature, Sewanee’s central campus can seem detrimentally self-contained.
“The move of the bookstore is part of the plan to bring more commerce and activity to the Sewanee Village,” said Vice President for University Advancement Jay Fisher (C’79).
Explaining the level of attention given to planning the project, Fisher added, “The plan to guide and assist development of the Village dates from 2012.”
The time for the bookstore’s move, and for the construction of the Wellness Center, is almost upon Sewanee.
“We expect the Regents to approve architectural plans for the bookstore when they meet in June. Construction should begin later in the summer,” stated Fisher.
“We are hopeful that construction [for the Wellness Center] can begin in the summer of 2019,” Fisher said. Expanding upon this timeframe, he added, “We still have more fundraising to do before construction can begin. In any case, construction cannot begin until the new bookstore is completed and the existing bookstore contents moved.”
Fisher disclosed the site for the new Bookstore, an unsuspecting building which they already own: the gray house on University Avenue near the post office.
Ultimately, Fisher hoped to impart a narrative regarding “Stronger Truer Sewanee” separate from simply physical changes.
“It’s worth noting that the largest part of the campaign, more than $59 million, is aimed at adding resources for students – financial aid, internship funding, etc. These results are less visible than a new bookstore, but are vitally important to the University and our students.”
Some students have expressed confusion regarding the University Bookstore move, such as Hellen Wainaina (C’18).
“I like that the bookstore is currently on central campus. I understand the need to move the Wellness Center to central campus; but I wonder if there’s another place to house the bookstore, so it’s not too removed. I suppose the move leaves me with more questions than answers,” said Wainaina.