Changing university landscape: Projects totaling over $100 million in the works at McNeese

Published 4:25 am Wednesday, July 3, 2024

McNeese State University President Wade Rousse and Director of Facilities Kevin Martin took the media on a tour Monday to give a snapshot of current and planned projects for the campus.

More than $100 million of work is planned for McNeese.

Over the years, getting approval and acquiring funding for the projects has been “long and tedious.” Martin said they have been working with four entities to get funding, reimbursements and projects off the ground.

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Rousse said they are in the “middle of the battle.”

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the last three years have been tough,” he said. “If you have the vision to get us through the next three or four years, we are going to be the regional institution in this state that is better positioned than anyone.”

Student Union

The official construction start date for the new Student Union is July 8.

Martin said this is his most important project, and will be a major driver for student enrollment and engagement.

When they first began designing the student union, the building was 78,000 square feet for $18 million. Following natural disasters, the size of the building is reduced to 52,000 square feet; The cost inflated to $32 million.

Rousse said because of their focus on optimizing the student experience, there has to be a student union, no matter the cost.

This building will house the new cafeteria, large meeting rooms, the ballroom, study spaces, student organization workspace and the Rodeo Museum.

The area where the old post office and student services were previously located will be turned into green space.

The Student Union will untie the Quad and Cowboy Way. Cowboy Way, a scenic walk path, will run from the Student Central, through the campus, and to the new Student Union.


The largest project for the athletics program is the new 18,000, $33 million football press box. It will feature a modern design and 23 suites of varying sizes.

Rousse said the press box will serve as an “alternative revenue generator.” The endowment naming rights will create around $1 million annually in additional athletics revenue.

The $1.5 million renovated weight room will be modernized, including a full nutrition bar and turf training area.

McNeese acquired land from the city of Lake Charles through a 1031 like-kind exchange. A new 8,000-square-foot baseball field house will be built here. In addition, the existing field house will be converted into a training facility. The outdoor space in between the buildings will be a covered training area. The total cost of this project is $4.7 million.

“We’re going to have athletic facilities unlike anybody else in our conference,” Martin said.

Additional projects

The old McNeese Police Station is being converted into the Autism Clinic. Since Hurricane Laura, the clinic has been housed in temporary buildings in athletics. The about 5,000 square foot building will get a small addition to the front of the building, making it 7,300 square feet. This project costs about $4.7 million.

The Burton Business Center — which houses the College of Business and the College of Education — is getting an $8 million “major facelift.” The building will be modernized with a mixture of brick and metal panels, and will aesthetically tie in with the new Student Union.

The bookstore will be moved to a more accessible location on the corner of E. Sale Road and Hodges Street, the former Wesley Foundation building. The bookstore will be renamed the “Team Store,” as most books are now purchased online.

Down the road, the Sherman Fine Arts Center will slated for a $7 million remodel.

The President’s House is in the design process, which is expected to be finalized within the month. Repairs will be funded with insurance and FEMA dollars, costing about $2.3 million. Rousse said that the upstairs floor will be the living quarters, and the downstairs will be dedicated as a “true entertaining space.

A kayak launch will be installed by the SEED Center, in conjunction with the Bayou Greenbelt Project and the city.