SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Heading into 2022, students at Evangel University may start to notice some changes on campus. Beautification has always been top of mind for University President Dr. Mike Rakes.

“Coming out of the collective listening process I’ve done this fall, just kind of ending phase one of just listening to all the various departments and divisions of the University, we came up with five main things,” Dr. Rakes said. “The main thing that we said we wanted to elevate was the student experience. We live in a very divided world, so we are creating spaces that bring kids together.”

In the Cantrell Student Union, Evangel will redesign its coffee shop and student hangout area. This winter, construction will also begin on some new outdoor basketball courts and patio seating.

“What we’re looking to do is create environments where students connect organically,” Dr. Rakes said. “Our whole main focus is we want the students that come to Evangel to have an incredible experience not just in the classroom where they can just hang out and be a family.”

The Barracks Coffee Shop on campus will have giant TV screens, new couches and chairs and charging stations. Upstairs in the hangout area, also called “The Joust,” there will be a karaoke stage and a TV wall.

The basketball courts will be outside the student union. There will be three half-courts with night-time lighting, concrete patio tables and chairs.

“It’s not even so much about basketball, as the magnet that’ll create, whereas kids just kind of come out and hang out,” Dr. Rakes said. “It’s a space designed to kind of pull [students] to the core of campus. It’s right under the shadow of Carl the Clock Tower, kind of near Fred the Fire Hydrant. We just think it’s going to draw students right to the middle of the campus.”

Dr. Rakes says Evangel is spending around a million dollars on these projects. The coffee shop and the Joust should be finished, or near completion, before the New Year. The basketball courts are expected to be done by March 2022.

“It’s a great recruiting tool,” Dr. Rakes said. “Students aren’t looking so much to be pampered I don’t think. This generation, really what we’re seeing is they’re on a mission to do something with their life. They want to make an investment in all of that and I think for us, if we can just get them in these opportunities to connect with one another, we just think it’s going to be an amazing, organic explosion of community.”