Cruz Plaza: Mercer's new setup

Cruz Plaza: Mercer's new setup
Photo Credit: Patrick Hobbs / Cluster Staff

Groundbreaking for the new Cruz Plaza took place on Wednesday, December 12, 2013. Mercer trustee Milton L Cruz, a graduate of Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts, provided the lead gift for the construction of the plaza. His wife Aileen Rosso, his father Juan Cruz Rosario, and sister Zorida Cruz Torres are also Mercer graduates and contributed to the gift alongside him.

In a video news release by Mercer University, Dr. James Netherton, Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance at Mercer, Cruz wanted to improve the campus by removing the abandoned street Edgewood Avenue. According to the video, Cruz felt that there needed to be a central place on campus for students to gather.

Mercer University hired the Atlanta based landscaping and architecture company HGOR to handle the design of Cruz Plaza. HGOR has had history of handling projects on college campuses. Their past projects include handling the designs of colleges such as Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Wesleyan School.

The original deadline for the project’s completion was in July, but there were some delays due to the unusually heavy amounts of rainfall in the spring. According to Larry Brumley, Senior Vice President for Marketing, Communications, and Chief of Staff at Mercer University, there were only a few delays in the project due to the rain.

The construction crew did what he described as an “amazing” job of working around the rain. According to administrator Brumley, they are going to finish the project by the time freshman move in.

Mercer also chose to expand the project during Cruz Plaza’s construction. Administrator Brumley said that throughout the project, they found new opportunities for improvement during construction and they felt it was the best time to add those improvements in.

When describing the effect the Cruz Plaza will have on Mercer’s campus, Administrator Brumley said that it “creates a park like environment” for the students and that he expects the plaza will be “heavily used by students, faculty and staff”.

Some of the plaza’s amenities mentioned included fountains, tables, and chairs by Connell Student Center, as well as benches all around the plaza, electrical outlets, and new lighting.  One other change to the campus is that the Mercer Bear statue that used to be by the University Center was relocated during construction and is now located in Cruz Plaza.

Administrator Brumley mentioned that the plaza is a great place to host some of Mercer University’s formal events. One example he gave was that they could hold outdoor commencement services, which could allow them to have more room for the families of Mercer University students that are attending the event.

When asked how he believes the students will react, Administrator Brumley says that he believes that students who last saw the campus in early May, when it was still in the earlier stages of construction will find it to be a “real jaw dropper”. According to him, they have already heard “real exclamations of surprise” from students who have seen the completed plaza for the first time.