The Texas Woman’s University Board of Regents decided unanimously to demolish University House, the traditional residence of the head of the university, and build a new residence in its place during a specially called meeting Tuesday morning.
The regents approved the project for an amount not to exceed $500,000. The project will be funded by $175,000 from the Chancellor Circle Gift Fund and $325,000 from the unrestricted quasi-endowment fund.
Brenda Floyd, vice president for finance and administration, said the university aims to have the new house constructed by the end of the spring 2014 semester, but because planning has not begun, there is no definite timeline.
The university will now begin the process of finding a builder, designing the new house and other planning efforts before bringing the project back to the Board of Regents for approval to start construction.
Officials began looking at the possibility of renovating the house last fall, but after a proposal quoted the job at about $500,000, they began to explore the cost of new construction, Floyd said. A renovation would require replacing plumbing, electrical wiring, the roof and the kitchen.
“When you’re working with an older home like that, you get a price based on what the estimators can see, but you never really know until you get into the project what else there might be, in terms of what’s needed to be renovated in the infrastructure,” she said.
Regent George Schrader made an official motion adding that demolition and construction of a new building was in the best interest of the university, as renovation plans had been explored but were deemed unfeasible.
Built in 1954 to replace the original president’s house, University House has served as a home for university presidents and, most recently, TWU Chancellor and President Ann Stuart. Stuart moved into another campus residence last fall when crews began assessing the property for renovations after she had lived in the University House for more than 10 years.
“Having the opportunity to be there with my [late] husband was very, very important,” Stuart said. “And I always just took a few moments before events like outdoor barbecues and just looked at what facilities and food services had set up. There would be picnic tables and chairs, and red checkered tablecloths and baskets of geraniums. It always looked like something out of Southern Living.”
The home was regularly used for university events such as dinners for donors or for prospective candidates, and it showed visitors a different aspect of TWU, Stuart said.
Stuart, who announced her retirement late last year, said that having a house on campus is an advantage.
“The fact that the university has a home for the chancellor is a very positive thing,” she said. “Many new chancellors come from far and away, or are moving to a new town, I suppose, and the fact that a residence is provided makes the opportunity more attractive and the transition so much easier.”
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.