MAILED: June 10, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE -- It's hard for Jim Bollinger to cite specifics when asked how the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's campus has changed since he joined its staff in 1970. He's too busy envisioning the future to easily look back at the specific projects that have helped the university earn its distinction as Wisconsin's most beautiful campus.
"It's hard to remember how it used to look," Bollinger said as he glanced at a campus map on his office wall. "There have been so many changes that it's hard to pick any one out."
Those who have worked with the assistant chancellor for facilities planning and management during his 27-year career at UW-Eau Claire say that while the projects themselves may blur together, the outcome of Bollinger's efforts are apparent simply by looking out the window.
"Many of the physical improvements to UW-Eau Claire's campus over the years can be credited to Jim and his vision of what this campus should look like," Chancellor Larry Schnack said. "It would be difficult to find another university that has planned as well."
In his role with facilities planning and management, Bollinger -- who will retire at the end of June -- has overseen projects ranging from the construction of Hibbard Hall to the rerouting of vehicle traffic away from the campus' center to the $8.4 million remodeling of the McIntyre Library.
"We owe him a debt of gratitude for all he has done -- not only for UW-Eau Claire but the city of Eau Claire as well," Schnack said of Bollinger's career at the university.
Among the most notable of his accomplishments was his success in turning a 40-acre sandy field along Stein Boulevard into a heavily used recreation complex for students, faculty, staff and community members. The recreation complex will be dedicated to Bollinger during a ceremony at Stein Fields this summer.
"I have a good feeling every time I drive past those fields," said Bollinger, noting that everyone from participants in YMCA soccer programs to university recreation softball teams to city volleyball leagues use the Stein Fields. "In the spring, fall and summer there are hundreds of young people and adults on those fields. They're used all week long much of the year by our own recreation and athletic programs as well as city programs."
With funding for most of those projects throughout the years split -- 25 percent by the city of Eau Claire, 25 percent by UW-Eau Claire and 50 percent from federal funds -- the development is an example of Bollinger's ability to bring various groups together to accomplish a common goal.
Under Bollinger's leadership, UW-Eau Claire has become more pedestrian friendly than in 1970 when there were small parking lots scattered throughout the campus, bringing thousands of vehicles through the center of campus every day. Today, parking lots are located on the fringes of the campus, keeping vehicular traffic through the central part of the campus to a minimum. "It's a much safer environment for pedestrians," he said.
The elimination of parking areas at the center of the campus also has meant more green space in those areas. The Central Campus Mall, for example, was a parking lot when Bollinger joined UW-Eau Claire's staff. Now students study and socialize on the mall, and community members gather there for forums and concerts.
In terms of dollars, the addition to the McIntyre Library was the largest remodeling project that was completed under Bollinger's supervision. "We had a $9 million budget but we did it closer to $8.3 million so we returned $700,000 to the state, and it was done ahead of schedule," Bollinger said. "I was pleased to have it turn out that way."
Other significant changes on campus during Bollinger's tenure include the construction of the Hibbard Humanities Hall in 1974, a major addition to Davies Center completed in 1976, the construction of the Human Sciences and Services Building in 1982, an addition to the Nursing Building in 1985, and the Olson Addition to the McPhee Center in 1986.
Bollinger also has laid the groundwork for a $10 million upgrade to Phillips Science Hall. The State Building Commission in April approved planning dollars for that project, and work is expected to begin in 1999. He also is currently overseeing projects to construct a new residence hall on campus for an estimated $11 million, and the remodeling of Crest Wellness Center for about $550,000.
While Bollinger is proud of the university's growth he credits the four chancellors he has worked with, the thousands of students who have passed through the university, and the faculty and staff -- all of whom, he said, cared enough about the campus to support changes that may not have had immediate benefits to them but were best for the university over time.
"What's impressed me most about the people I've interacted with -- be it students, faculty or administrators -- is that they have pursued a vision of what's best as a whole, not just what's best for each of them. I applaud all of them," he said, adding that he hopes to be remembered for being fair and objective as he dealt with people and issues.
"I have been privileged to work with outstanding faculty, staff, students and administrators -- especially Larry Schnack, whose commitment to and support of excellence is evident throughout the university's facilities and programs."
The residents and officials of the city of Eau Claire also deserve credit for helping the university blend with the city as the campus continued to grow, Bollinger said. "This is known as the most attractive campus in Wisconsin and I think it deserves that reputation," he said.
Among the challenges facilities planning and management will face in upcoming years is ensuring that the campus is equipped to handle advancing levels of technology, Bollinger said. "It really forces all of us to work more closely together and that's a good thing," he said.
Bollinger -- who played varsity basketball, baseball and football while at UW-Eau Claire -- earned a bachelor's degree in 1957. He received a master's degree in school administration from UW-Madison in 1961. A mathematics major, he started his professional career as a teacher and coach in Port Washington. He later taught in Eau Claire and held administrative positions in Wausau schools.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 23, 1997