End of Speedway Mall renovation era spurs talks about need for campus construction notifications

Rebecca Stanley

When fences and backhoes appear around campus seemingly overnight, some students wonder why there is not a direct notification system in place to keep the University community in the know about upcoming and current construction projects, but UT officials are working to fix this.

There are already some online resources in place, but Laurie Lentz, Financial and Administrative Services Communications manage, said her office is working to make construction information more accessible. Currently, there is a campus construction advisory website, which provides information about the University’s significant construction and renovation projects.

Lentz said her team is working this semester to integrate the University website with detailed information found on the construction advisory web pages. 

“I understand that not everybody is aware of (the campus construction website),” Lentz said. “(The website integration) project is underway, and our belief and hope is to make construction information more readily accessible to the campus community.”

Efforts to improve campus construction notifications were spurred, in part, by communication with students, said Lentz. Students reached out via email about Speedway construction, which led Lentz and her colleagues to see a need for more accessible information, but she said achieving that will come with some difficulty. 

“We want to communicate information,” Lentz said. “I think one of the challenges that we face in getting information out is sometimes the construction zones change rapidly, as do the construction schedules … By the time we get a message out, it may have changed again.” 

Among the potential outlets UT could use, neuroscience junior Mahaly Baptiste said multiple communication platforms would be welcomed. 

“I think that a Twitter account would be good,” Baptiste said. “I also think the emails help … like how the UTPD has email alerts. Notifications would help so you don’t have
to … reroute every time.”

Lentz said she welcomes student input.

“We do not have Twitter accounts for (the UT System’s Capital Improvement Program) or for Project Management and Construction Services at this time, but we are certainly open to Twitter,” Lentz said.

For economics junior Christine Ha, formal notifications ought to be disseminated to students because they are directly affected. 

“It’s just really inconvenient to get around,” Ha said. “I mean, this is our campus. I think we deserve to know about (the construction), especially because we’re walking on it every single day.”