A large part of that plan is centered on a massive renovation to the Park Avenue campus in the University District, which is currently home to a majority of the U of M’s Olympic sports’ practice facilities.
Late last year, Bowen released the 20-page plan that would ostensibly ensure such a development. He termed the call-to-action a “March to the East.” Among the more integral parts are goals to balance the department budget and increase annual giving from $8.7 million to $11 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
“We believed it was absolutely paramount that a new strategic plan be created to address our journey as a new comprehensive member of the Big East in 2013,” Bowen said.
It's a big undertaking for the U of M -- one that will take support from the Tennessee Board of Regents, as well as the community.
The Park Avenue campus is bounded by Park Avenue on the north and Getwell Street on the west. It is located just south of the Normal Station neighborhood and just east of the Sherwood Forest neighborhood. The university has already announced plans for a new community health services building on the Park Avenue campus.
Spottswood Avenue resident and Memphis graduate Kathleen Nailen said she's totally in favor of facility upgrades for the athletes at Memphis.
"It shows commitment, and I think that's what has been lacking over there for a while," Nailen said. "The last administration seemed like it was asleep at the wheel. I don't feel like that anymore."
Bowen and his staff began the process of formulating the department vision almost immediately after he started at the school in June. The U of M athletic department conducted five town-hall style meetings with stakeholders to gauge community input.
“It was eye-opening,” Bowen said. “People told us where we were good and maybe where we needed to get better.”
Financial details, as well as exact time of completion, are not yet available. But if Nailen's thought process is in any way reflective of the fan-base at large, there's optimism and trust abound.
"It will require a lot of money and legwork, I understand that, but I at least get the sense that Bowen and his staff have some sort of direction about them," Nailen said. "That's re-assuring."