About Our Campus Improvements

August 22, 2013

To the JU Community,

Thank you for a very successful summer, and for your considerable efforts to enable Jacksonville University to focus on its mission to develop students who are well-prepared to succeed in their ambitions and excel at learning and leading.

I’d like to take a few moments, especially for our students on their exciting Move-In Day today, to highlight some of the substantial campus improvements we are finalizing to make JU a better place.

These are being accomplished through the generosity of donors and through our visioning process, after many discussions that were held to determine what our students value most. Again, our goal is, first and foremost, to provide them the best possible environment for their educations.

Here are several of the latest campus upgrades:

Riverview Café renovation. These improvements represent nothing less than a complete overhaul of our main student dining hall. This brand new gathering location for students and faculty is the culmination of student feedback, focus groups and reviews of dining trends.

Our outstanding team and our partners have been hard at work over the summer, and with generous contributions and funds from our ASPIRE campaign, an entire re-branding is taking place.

Hallmarks of the upgrades include several large themed dining areas throughout the café and a new Faculty Lounge. These improvements feature a Trattoria Pizza platform with chef-attended pasta station; deli with made-to-order sandwiches, soups and new quick-fire oven; a Riverview Diner with classics like fried chicken, meatloaf, burgers, French fries, chef-carved items, specials and more; and, perhaps the biggest highlight, a full-action island platform with Mongolian Wok-style service, locally sourced salad items and full dessert and ice cream sundae bar. The vegetarian section will also now be a full-service platform with chef attendant.

Updated seating, including bar-top seating with charging/docking stations, is featured throughout the dining area, and eco-friendly materials will finish the space. Additionally, two new sous chefs have been added to the facility’s staff, along with a new Head Chef who will be on board soon.

Chick-fil-A. After being -- by far -- the most highly requested eatery from our students, we decided to open a Chick-fil-A right here on campus, in Davis Student Commons. This popular food chain now has more than 1,600 restaurants in 38 states, serving chicken sandwiches, fresh lemonade and more.

This dining area, formerly Nellie’s, will also feature a Simply To Go, similar to our quick-access food pavilion in the Davis College of Business, providing healthy grab-and-go, premade sandwiches, drinks and snacks for our busy students. Our meal plans all include dining at these facilities. This area will also be expanded in the future to include a convenience store and smoothie bar.

Expanded free parking. The parking garage next to Oak Hall on South Campus is now free for all students, staff and faculty at all times. This is being done to ensure they have the most convenient and accessible parking for housing, work and educational needs. We encourage everyone to use this garage. As always, students, faculty and all JU employees are never charged for registering their vehicles. Students can visit our Campus Security Website at www.ju.edu/campussecurity for registration details.

Williams Hall lobby renovations. This welcome area is being improved to include a game room, lounge area, ping pong and pool tables, flat-screen TVs and new furniture. We plan to create a new gathering spot for students on South Campus, and the entire project should be complete by Labor Day.

These are just a few of the enhancements under way now on your campus, all being done to create the most welcoming and inviting environment possible.

Speaking of gathering spots, I’m confident you’re going to be thrilled with what we have in store for our students, faculty, staff and alumni at the River House near the Lonnie Wurn Pool and Dolphin Beach Volleyball Courts. This ‘50s-era residential home is being vastly expanded and upgraded into JU’s central meeting, entertainment and gathering spot. Conference space, meeting rooms, paddle fans, wireless technology, flat-panel TVs, expansive decks, a pub with food … these are just a few of the amenities. More details on that project will come in the next several weeks, as well as on our new Football/Lacrosse Stadium expansion at Milne Field and a new Student Veterans Center in the Founders Building.

Much more is coming your way as Jacksonville University continues to grow and improve. Deep thanks to our great faculty for their preparation and execution this busy time of year – and to our hard-working staff and partners. I wish you all a productive, safe and exciting 2013-14 school year. As always, I am available to listen to your ideas for creating the best learning experience possible at JU.


Tim Cost
Jacksonville University
Class of 1981