Texas Wesleyan University has a new centrally-located campus student center that is much more than just a new building.
The university hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday to officially open the Nick and Lou Martin Center, a 44,000-square-feet student center that provides more space and support to students and engages the community.
The two-story, $20.3 million building is the single largest capital improvement project at Texas Wesleyan in recent history.
University President Frederick Slabach said the center ushers a new era for Texas Wesleyan.
“Nick and Lou Martin Center is the most important addition to this campus in a century,” Slabach said, “because this wonderful facility touches all the facets of the one thing we hold most dear, our students.”
The center offers new dining options, including a Which Wich and a Starbucks shop. It will also house an expanded bookstore, a career center, quiet study areas and game rooms, one of which features a table tennis board.
For potential students, the building and the admission office in it will act as a welcome center.
There are also meeting rooms, student government chambers and offices for Student Life, Residence Life and Student Organizations. And, a 300-seat ballroom will give the university the ability to host community events.
“Faculty and staff here at the university know that students who are actively engaged both inside and outside the classroom are more likely to graduate than those who are not engaged,” said history associate professor Christopher Ohan. “A facility like this, like the Martin Center, will be key to that engagement for years to come.”
According to university data, 2,619 students are currently enrolled in 31 different undergraduate and five graduate programs offered at Texas Wesleyan.
Growing student numbers and campus enhancements are two of the five main goals the university’ includes in its strategic plan.
In the last five years, the university did make significant strides. Texas Wesleyan nearly doubled its endowment, grown enrollment and invested more than $23 million in campus enhancements, while reviving its football program in the process.
Then, the Martin Center became a reality in 2016 when Nick and Lou Martin announced their contribution to the project. Lou Martin serves on the university’s board of trustees.
“We’re so excited about the future of Texas Wesleyan and the role the Martin Center will play in its future,” Lou Martin said.
Designed by Bennett Benner Partners and built by Byrne Construction, the building is located between the Eunice and James L. West Library and Canafax Clock Tower.
The Martin Center now also aims to bolster economic development in the southeast part of Fort Worth.
The aesthetically-pleasing building sits alongside an ongoing revitalization project, known as “Rosedale Renaissance,” in the Polytechnic neighborhood.
As part of the project, about $6.5 million is being invested to revitalize the campus and the neighborhood. About $1.8 million is being invested in the streets adjacent to campus.
The City of Fort Worth has secured a HUD Economic Development Initiative grant of $961,212 to help fund the storefront redevelopment and other improvements in the area.
“[The Martin Center] have given me, have given this administration, this university the confidence to know that our best days are yet to come,” said Texas State Senator Beverly Powell, who is a Texas Wesleyan alumna.