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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]


Always planning for the future

Mary Baker Russell breaking ground on the music building named after her
Mary Baker Russell Music Center was constructed in two phases, with the second phase beginning in December 1996. Scene was there as Mary Baker Russell herself broke ground on the final addition. David Benson ’94, Jane Russell and Darren Kerbs ’96 stand by as Mary wields her shovel.

As Scene has grown and changed throughout the years, so has PLU. Scene began with the very…orange cover of the inaugural issue in September 1970, featuring what was then the newly constructed University Center. More recently, the shiny new W. M. Keck Observatory graced the Winter 1999-2000 cover. And this issue’s cover features (along with the history of PLU growth) South Hall, which just opened its doors to students.

In 30 years, the list of new buildings is impressive and varied. Following the dedication of the UC in November 1970, the next major addition was the Names Fitness Center, which opened in 1984. Rieke Science Center, named for then-President William O. Rieke, was dedicated in January 1985. The ’90s saw the dedication of the Mary Baker Russell Music Center in February 1995, and the W. M. Keck Observatory at this fall’s Opening Convocation. Finally, South Hall was dedicated during Homecoming weekend this October.

Frosty Westering
While always special, national football championships are nothing new to PLU. In March 1981, Scene celebrated the 1980 team’s first national title under Frosty Westering. The team and Frosty are pictured with then-President Rieke.

There have also been renovations and additions. Ramstad Hall, originally built to house the natural sciences, was remodeled and converted into a home for various academic services and the School of Nursing. Ingram Hall, used as a student union and as a headquarters for both the School of Nursing and the art department, today is home to the School of the Arts. The former Parkland School was annexed by the university in the 1980s, and became home to the Marriage and Family Therapy program and several community outreach organizations. PLU added a third floor to the Mortvedt Library in 1987, and it now houses the University archives. Scene’s inaugural cover story, the UC, has also seen many changes.

1988 - Scandinavian Cultural Center construction

While the Scandinavian Cultural Center looks like it has always been a part of the University Center, it is a relatively recent addition. Scene caught up with construction crews in 1988 as they renovated a former storage space to create the new center.

The area that is now the Scandinavian Cultural Center? During construction of the UC in 1970, longtime UC director Marv Swenson noticed the construction crew filling in a large hole on the lower level. When engineers said it wasn’t necessary to fill in the hole, Swenson had it left open, and added doors. Despite a dirt floor, the space provided valuable storage space during the UC’s early years, and was later converted into music practice rooms.

University Center computer lab
The University Center Computer Lab opened in 1995, replacing the bowling alley that originally occupied this first-floor space in the U.C.

What about the current studio and office space for KCNS Student Television and KCCR Student Radio? When the UC opened its doors, ASPLU occupied the rooms down the hall from the Mooring Mast. One can only imagine what interesting exchanges occurred late at night on the mezzanine level.

University Center bowling alley
The University Center is one of many buildings that have seen a multitude of changes over the past 30 years. The space that began its life as a bowling alley is now the UC computer lab.

The computer center that current students use to type term papers? Until 1992, it was a place to hurl balls at pins on weekends. Yes, PLU sported its own bowling alley until lack of use and a need for more computer user rooms forced a remodel. The computer center opened in 1995.

Now in 2000, PLU awaits completion of the Xavier Hall renovation, a $5 million project the first of three capitol projects funded the Campaign for Pacific Lutheran University: The Next Bold Step. Whatever the future holds, it is certain that new and innovative planning will be reported in Scene.

Pacific Lutheran University Scene
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