By Kyle Wittenrich, WC Reporter
MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University (WIU) announced this June that Tillman Hall will officially close. If everything goes as planned, the building will no longer be in use by the fall of 2023.
Troy Rhoads, WIU assistant Vice President of Facilities Management has worked in the WIU Facilities Department for the past 26 years. He has oversaw many different projects and has watched how the campus has evolved over the years. “The idea going behind the Tillman closure is not a new idea, it’s a concept that has come across for a number of years,” Rhoads said.
The decision to close Tillman did not come down to one exact reason. In the past decade, the enrollment of college students in the U.S. has decreased. In 2022, WIU’s enrollment sits at just over 7,500. Due to the decreased enrollment numbers, WIU no longer requires excess square footage for the students. According to Rhoads, “I look back at the space study we had not quite ten years ago that said we have more square footage then than we needed, and then looking where we are at now with lower enrollment…we have to think hard about what we really need.”
Many buildings on the WIU campus were built in the mid 1950s and 60s. Over the years, renovations and other projects have been done to the buildings to keep them incode and up-to-date. Many aspects of Tillman, including the location of the restrooms, classroom layouts, and even the roof, are not up to today’s code. Rhoads explained that an estimate of around $30 million for the renovations needed on the building. Besides the decreased enrollment numbers, the maintenance costs to keep Tillman up to code played a large part in the decision to take the building offline.
Tillman is home to multiple academic departments on campus. The building provides classrooms and workspaces for the Visual Productions, Media Relations, Earth Sciences, and other departments. The closure calls for these departments and classes to be relocated. While it is not officially decided on where exactly these classes will be moved to, they will more than likely be relocated to the buildings that hold the departments’ designated colleges. “The goal is to try to consolidate and keep those areas in the college area that they’re assigned to,” stated Rhoads.
Since classes are still being held in Tillman, it opens the question: when will the building officially close? Rhoads explained that the goal is for Tillman to close after the 2023 spring semester. The majority of the 2023 summer season will be used to move the supplies out of the building and clear all classrooms and offices. If everything goes according to plan, the building will no longer contain active classrooms and offices by the fall of 2023.
As of now, there are no current plans to close other campus buildings besides Tillman. However, there are plans for a “major capital project” that Rhoads could not personally discuss. With the closure of an older building and an upcoming capital project, we are seeing WIU step into the modern future.