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Drury days from occupying O'Reilly center

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Pete Radecki, the featured guest at Springfield Business Journal's 12 People You Need to Know breakfast Aug. 17, is Drury University's man behind the construction of the $12 million O'Reilly Family Event Center.

School officials expect to receive its certificate of occupancy next week, said Radecki, vice president of campus operations and sustainability, in an interview with SBJ Editor Eric Olson at the Tower Club on the top floor of Hammons Tower.

The O'Reilly center is among several campus projects completed in time for the arrival of students on Aug. 20.

Other projects included the renovation of residential Wallace Hall to include central heat and air and an elevator and a campus bike path.

Radecki noted the importance of the O'Reilly Center, for which the university is aiming to gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Gold certification.

The center, which will feature a month of grand opening events culminating with an Aretha Franklin concert on Oct. 30, was funded by donations and contributions, including $6 million from the O'Reilly family and $600,000 from the Pitt family, both of Springfield. The Pitt donation has allowed the school to add upgarades to enable the move to LEED certification.

"It will be a really premiere event for both sports and special events," Radecki said, adding that the 3,100-seat facility will make full use of its limited size. "It's really a special place."

Radecki said his philosophy in construction of buildings such as the O'Reilly center is to lead by example. If students see how buildings and utilities are being constructed sustainably and efficiently, he says, they will take that knowledge with them into the work force.

Examples include using one cooling system for several buildings, experimentation with solar panel systems and the conversion of lights to more efficient systems.

Radecki plans to keep moving forward with Drury expansion, but with the completion of several large projects coming to a close, he says his role in the near future will be examination.

"I want to take a deep breath and start doing some planning," he said. "As far as our current needs, I think we're in pretty good shape.

"As we look toward the future, we expect to continue to have a modest amount of growth."

Drivers along Chestnut Expressway now have a thorough view of Drury, as the Tindle Mills property the school agreed to sell to Ozarks Technical Community College in April has been deconstructed to make room for OTC parking.

The destruction of the building allows for viewing of both schools from the expressway, but Radecki said he doesn't see this as butting heads with OTC.

"We have a culture here of 'how do we do things together?'" he said. "Collaboratively, we're all in it. We can go further working together."

Radecki was appointed to the newly created position in March 2008, after having served as vice president of institutional advancement. He is responsible for buildings and grounds, maintenance and construction projects and working with the campus sustainability committee.

The next SBJ 12 People interview with Dr. Remi Fasipe, pediatric hematologist and oncologist at St. John's Children's Hospital, will be held Sept. 14. Tickets can be purchased online.

Related links:
    •    Pete Radecki 12 People event photos
    •    Keith Jaspers, SBJ's July 12 People honoree
    •    12 People You Need to Know main page
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