With a look towards the future and continued growth in its student population, Georgia Southern University is embarking on a major effort to update and expand its dining facilities.
Landrum Dining Center is being demolished and a new 75,000-square-foot facility constructed to replace it. According GSU spokesperson Betsy Nolen, the "new" Landrum will house an ID card center, postal and print shop, and a 1,100-seat dining hall.
"Also, we are completely renovating the Lakeside Cafe, adding 14,000 square feet for a total of 28,000 square feet," she said. "Lakeside will be able to seat more than 500 customers. Both projects will begin this August and will be ready for opening by fall 2013. Both will retain their original names."
The university will have an intermediate dining facility, The Nest, which will serve as the main dining hall during the construction phase of the dining project. Located in the parking lot next to Watson Hall and the Performing Arts Center, The Nest is currently under construction and will be operational for fall semester. Nolen noted that there are ten other locations on campus where students can also eat.
The construction cost of the new Landrum facility and the renovation of Lakeside will be $21,500,000. Georgia Southern officials said money for the projects will come through the issuance of revenue bonds.
"We have experienced such growth that our main dining halls could not handle the amount of students wanting to eat on campus," Nolen said. "Landrum is also an aging facility, built in the mid-60s. Our housing and educational facilities are some of the best structures in the state, and the Georgia Southern University community deserves dining facilities that raise that bar as well."
Nolen said more than 7,000 students purchase some type of meal plan, varying from three to 19 meals per week pointing out that meal plans can be used at any of GSU's dining locations and have never been exclusive to Lakeside and/or Landrum.
Student dining is managed and operated by Georgia Southern's Auxiliary Services division which receives no funding from the state, and must generate revenue to support its services. In addition to dining, Auxiliary Services is responsible for housing, parking, health services, the University Bookstore, and print store.
Georgia Southern's budget for Auxiliary Enterprises (Fiscal Year 2013) as reported by the Georgia Board of Regents is $78,106,280 ranking third behind the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. Georgia State University ranks fourth.
"We've grown to nearly 300 full-time employees and employ as many as 500 students during the fall and spring semesters," said Eddie Mills, director of Auxiliary Services at the university.
Mills said it can be difficult to compare auxiliary revenue between universities, because it depends on what is included in the overall number.
"As for the difference in dollars for universities, no two auxiliary services departments are the same," he said. "For example, some count Health Services revenue like us and others have it in Students Affairs. It's difficult to make a direct comparison with dollars per student.
"One thing that helps our revenue numbers is our ability to self-operate all of our units, with the exception of transportation," Mills said. "Georgia Southern and the University of Georgia are the only ones in the state not using a food service contract. Most others use Aramark or Sodexo to operate dining services and receive a commission. We are one of the few that operates our own university store. Most others are using either Barnes and Noble or Follett for its bookstore."
Mills said a $3,000,000 renovation to Georgia Southern's Auxiliary Services Distribution Center will begin this fall, because storage and warehouse needs have outgrown the capacity of the facility.
"Also, we have begun plans to build a new Health and Counseling Center, but that will have to be approved by a student vote this fall," he said. "There are no immediate plans to build or acquire additional housing. After this football season, we will renovate and add additional concession areas at Paulson Stadium."
The other large project underway this summer for Auxiliary Services is completion of renovation activity at Freedom's Landing, the large apartment complex, formerly known as Campus Club, which was purchased by Georgia Southern University's Housing Foundation in 2011.
"When students move in for this coming fall semester, we will have done $3.5 million in renovations to this residence complex," Mills said. "A lot of that will be done over a three week period this summer."