Xavier South is the heartbeat of the university and where all students begin their journey.
It houses the divisions of business and social behavior, seven academic departments, administrative offices, classrooms, computer labs, student media, exercise facilities and has become an important resource-base for the university.
“When you have admissions, financial aid, and the registrar’s office in one location, students have a unique opportunity for a better form of customer service,” said Jarred Honora, an admissions counselor.
Built in 1950, Xavier South is one of the largest buildings with six stories and 123,000-square-feet of space. The aging building’s condition worsened after two hurricanes—Katrina in 2010 and Isaac in 2012. Katrina flooded the entire campus with four feet of water, and Xavier South suffered heavy damage, said Marion Bracy, vice president for facility planning and management.
“After the two storms, water began entering into the building causing moisture spots, water damage and mold, making this a sickly building,” Bracy said.
Lack of funding and ongoing negotiations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and insurance companies added delays, Bracy said.
“FEMA would not recognize the damage in regard to paying for the repairs,” Bracy said. Xavier argued that Katrina initiated the damages done to Xavier South and Isaac worsened the situation. Years after the storms, the university secured the first FEMA funds of $850,000 to begin the $3.2 million renovation job. The Edward G. Schleider Educational Foundation awarded another $750,000 last fall, and negotiations continue with FEMA so renovations can be completed, Bracy said.
In March 2014, Xavier began exterior renovations that included replacing more than 450 windows, application of brick sealant, and roof repairs, Bracy said. Interior work has included replacing walls and painting, and one of the last projects, a new lobby and rear entrance to Xavier South, is expected to be finished by June, he said. While an awning will have to wait for funding, workers will seal and add finishing touches to the new entryway, he added.
When Xavier’s $3.6 million fitness center is completed this summer, Bracy said equipment now located on Xavier South’s first floor will be moved, as will the dance and cardio rooms. There are plans to add a night eatery and establish a post for XUPD on the first floor.
“The changes will give the campus the appearance that it is being pulled together,” said Bracy.
Despite the disruptions for hundreds of employees and students who use Xavier South daily, the transformation is evident.
“The progression of this project has been very positive and I can not wait until the renovations are completed,” said Avis Stuard, the university’s registrar whose offices are on the sixth floor.