Regents Okay Budget to Renovate Cottonwood for University International Services

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved a budget to renovate the Cottonwood Residential Treatment Center at 1025 N. Sprigg and to use the redesigned space as a permanent new home for the University’s Office of International Education and Services and the Intensive English Program (IEP).

The Board gave its authorization to proceed with design and construction during FY18, the current fiscal year.

Kathy Mangels, vice president for finance and administration, said the facilities will be renovated to create a collaborative workspace and living/learning environment that supports the University’s goals of internationalization and globalization. The opportunity to redevelop the space became possible after the Community Caring Council, which assumed operation of the facility in July 2015, decided to relocate and end its lease. The University Foundation built Cottonwood in 1987 for lease to the Missouri Department of Mental Health as a youth treatment facility, which operated the facility from its construction until June 2015.

The renovation project dovetails with Southeast’s participation in the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Internationalization Laboratory Program. The laboratory is helping Southeast review its goals and develop a strategic plan in its international education efforts that aligns and integrates policies, programs and initiatives to position the University as a more globally-oriented and internationally-connected institution. Redesigning Cottonwood for Southeast’s international services will help fulfill the University’s commitment to advance internationalization, Mangels said. Southeast has 742 international students enrolled this fall.

The space was identified, evaluated and recommended for repurposing by the Lawrence Group, hired to spearhead a comprehensive master planning process at Southeast. Mangels says the property includes an administration building with office space, classrooms, conference rooms and a gym, and five cottages originally designed for residential housing.

International Education and Services is currently located in a house at 939 College Hill in need of substantial deferred maintenance. The Intensive English Program has offices throughout Pacific Hall. Both of these operations could co-locate into the current Cottonwood administration building in one space dedicated to serving international students, Mangels said. The current gym could be used for social, recreational and learning activities. Southeast’s teaching kitchen in Dearmont Hall, used by the hospitality management program, could relocate adjacent to the gym. This building has enough space for both a commercial and residential kitchen to be used for academic instruction, a catering prep area for events in the gym or for student social activities, Mangels said.

Two of the cottages will be renovated into classrooms for the IEP program. Three of the cottages currently used for housing, will be renovated to accommodate up to 35 students in a community-style residential setting, she said, and will meet specific housing needs of this group, including short-term housing for visiting scholars.

Mangels says a $2.5 million renovation budget is necessary to repurpose the facilities for the University’s international needs and to outfit them with appropriate equipment and furniture. Initial renovations could be completed by fall 2018.