History of the MSC - Part 3
Phase III: Changing with the Times
The planning for the next phase of the MSC and the University Center
began late in 1987. The Texas A&M Board of Regents began looking at
ideas to expand the MSC. They felt that the space available to offices and
organizations was, as Steve Vinson wrote, "not conducive to work."
When the 1973 renovations to the center were completed, the space was large
enough to fulfill the needs of the students and faculty at A&M; enrollment
in 1973 was about 18,000. However, as the student population grew and reached
close to 40,000, the MSC was no longer able to serve its primary function
which was "to provide space and facilities for students [and their]
activities." Organizations who felt they needed more space were able
to submit their requests and suggestions to the advisory committee overseeing
the expansion. The response was overwhelming. Student requests produced
a book of proposals which was several inches thick. The offices of many
student activities had been moved to the Pavilion in 1983 because of the
lack of space in the MSC; by 1987, the problem had only intensified. Neither
the MSC nor the Pavilion was capable of handling the population boom that
had taken place on A&M's campus.
One of the regents' main requirements of the architects was that the fountain
area not be destroyed. The architects' only alternative was to make the
additions in the area of the bridge that connects the MSC and Rudder Tower.
The regents were careful to talk to the users of the MSC to determine what
their needs were. Once again it was clear that some trees were going to
be lost in the construction process. The additional space gained by the
renovations was to be used for meeting rooms and an expanded copy center.
The plans also included a 500-seat movie theater and concessions area; however,
this was later cut from the budget.
Over Christmas Break of 1986, the MSC was shut down for removal of the asbestos
ceiling tiles. A federal regulation required that the removal be done when
any renovations were to take place; the university decided to alleviate
the problem before beginning work on the addition. The removal began immediately
after the students left for the Christmas holidays and was completed prior
to their return for the spring semester.
In June of 1987, the Clayton Williams Alumni Center was completed and opened.
The of the trees was the Rudder Oak, a tree that was about 165 years old
and 33 inches in diameter. On 29 June 1989, Kelley Brown, a reporter for
The Battalion, noted that the Rudder Oak was on the "save and move"
list and was to be moved about 40 feet away. Rucker and others argued that
the expansion could be accomplished in other ways and that moving the trees
was not necessary. Several students joined the crusade to save the trees,
and a petition was drawn up against their removal. The Battalion quickly
became the sounding board for the angry students who felt the university
was making these decisions without the consent of the student body. The
efforts of the students obviously had no real affect on the committee. Most
of the trees were eventually replaced or destroyed. Sadly enough, the noble
Rudder Oak did not survive its move. Approximately six months later, the
tree died and was removed.
Construction began in February 1989 and was completed in November 1991.
The original plans called for a two-story addition placed on the north side
of Rudder Auditorium that would house a 500-seat lecture hall. A second,
smaller lecture hall was also planned in the addition, and space was provided
for the Rudder Forum. Unfortunately, according to Dennis Busch, this project
came in 3 million dollars over budget, so the theater complex was cancelled.
On the east side of the MSC, a tiered, three-story addition was constructed.
This addition, linking the building more fully with Rudder Tower, allowed
for interior remodeling, and the bookstore was expanded as planned. A section
of the enlarged bookstore currently houses the Micro Computer Center which
sells computer equipment to students and faculty at educational discounts.
The bookstore space is leased by Barnes & Noble who leases the the area
as a part of the Texas A&M Bookstore. Three other areas benefited from
the new addition. First, the John Wayne Stark University Center Gallery
was added adjacent to the Flag Room to be used as a visual arts gallery.
The gallery is under the supervision of the Office of the University Art
Collections and Exhibits. Next, the bowling alleys were moved, and the improved
food court was put in its old location. Finally, more meeting rooms were
added to the second floor. The students' requests for space were met as
the Student Programs Office was enlarged to a more appropriate size.
To alleviate the overcrowding problem in the MSC, the university built the
John J. Koldus Student Services building. This building houses several student
activity offices; in addition, several other services were moved into the
building. The "L" shaped building was connected to a new multi-story,
1500-car parking garage which provided much-needed parking space to the
south area of campus.
The first floor of the new structure was home to the Offices of Student
Activities as well as Student Government and the Student Senate Meeting
room. KANM, the campus radio station, is located on the first floor. The
Department of Parking, Transit, and Traffic and the Support Services Office
for Students with Disabilities were moved into the building soon after its
completion. Additionally, the 12th Man Foundation Office and the Off Campus
Center were located on the first floor. In order to help ease the crowding
at the MSC, new meeting rooms were added in the building.
On the second floor is the new Placement Center. Its purpose is to bring
students in touch with job opportunities as they near graduation. The old
quarters, originally housed in the Rudder Tower, were cramped and unsuitable
for their purpose. The new office contains a research library sponsored
by Andersen Consulting that provides students with the resources needed
for finding a job. The Athletic Department and the Office of Cooperative
Education were also moved to the second floor as was the Office of Admissions
From its inception in 1950, the Memorial Student Center has been the hub
of campus activity and has gone through many changes to meet the demands
placed upon it from the growing student population. Though the present facilities
seem spacious and grand compared to those of 1950, that vital focal point
of Aggie life will undoubtedly continue to grow, serving its university
nobly in years to come.