Centre College Spends $100M On Improvements

Apr 28, 2012

DANVILLE, Ky.  -- Additions and improvements to Centre College will be on display this fall when the school hosts a vice presidential debate for the second time.

The Advocate-Messenger reports the private liberal arts college has spent about $100 million on projects and renovations since 2005.

Two of those projects were instrumental in the school securing the debate in October - Sutcliffe Hall, which will serve as the media hub for the event, and the Norton Center, where the candidates will meet.

Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations and head of the debate steering committee in 2000 and 2012, said the $25 million in renovations at Sutcliffe alone has already surpassed expectations. The Norton Center received $3 million in improvements.

"In my 18 years at Centre, Sutcliffe is one of the things I have to pinch myself about because it is hard to believe it is really ours," Trollinger said.

In 2000, Sutcliffe was aging, difficult to keep cool and crowded. The renovation doubled its size and added not only a multipurpose gym and classroom space but office suites, racquetball courts and a cafe. The building also got a new heating and air conditioning system.

Centre had tried to get a debate during the 2008 election cycle. Even though it wasn't chosen, Trollinger said the improvements made an impression on debate producer Marty Slutsky.

During the last debate, Director of Facilities Wayne King had to build a temporary air conditioning system for Sutcliffe; he said he won't have to worry about that challenge this time.

"Everything in this building is located ideally for what we are doing," he said. "You have a nice big space (in Hazelrigg Gym) and now trucks can come to the first floor to load and unload directly."

At King's request, Sutcliffe and other buildings were constructed with staging big events in mind, which means there won't be a need for extra power generators.

Director of Communications Michael Strysick, who will oversee the media center where thousands of journalists are expected to congregate, said the renovations will make a big difference.

"A lot of the infrastructure, you can't look at it or take a picture of it but it is so important to what we have to do," Strysick said.