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The University's Capital Council formally approved the construction on the new site of the Penn Women's Center yesterday, according to Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum. The building, called Locust House, is located in the former Theta Xi fraternity house. McCoullum added that it should be occupied by next fall. Engineers and other contractors have spent this semester examining the structure of Locust House and gathering the details necessary to prepare a formal proposal for construction, McCoullum said. Facilities Management officials then compiled a formal proposal to begin construction on the project, which was approved by the capital committee yesterday. The committee's membership includes University President Judith Rodin, Provost Stanley Chodorow, Executive Vice President John Fry and Vice President for Facilities Management Art Gravina. Once the renovations are complete, the Women's Center will fill the west half of the first floor and the office space on the second. The space will include a resource lounge, a conference room, offices and other counseling and support group space. The east side of the facility will include an all-University meeting room that any student, faculty or administrative group can reserve. Chodorow said the building is also being renovated for "at least one other office or center." "We have not decided yet which other office we will move to the building," he added. McCoullum announced in February 1994 that the Women's Center would move to Locust Walk. But then a year of debate, discussion and delay ensued. At the time, a small group of students expressed concern about the "political agenda" of the Women's Center, saying that many might be uncomfortable or intimidated by its new, more central location. Rodin did not make the definitive decision to move the center into Locust House until February 1995. Last April, the University community gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony to officially commemorate that decision. McCoullum said the reason the process has taken so long is because the building has many utility lines running under it, which had to be mapped out and evaluated. When the site was initially surveyed, officials discovered that the building was in worse shape than they had expected. "So it is really terrific to find out that the project is right on target," McCoullum said. "Everyone has been wonderful in moving this project forward."

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