Bronwyn Leech, a 1998 graduate of the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, submitted the proposal to Chancellor James Moeser in May.
"It's something that I felt a need for when I was a student there," Leech said. "The facility would be used by different denominations and by different groups so it's a less intimidating environment to explore different ways of doing things." The University could choose to incorporate Leech's proposal into the current restoration plans for Gerrard.
Provost Robert Shelton, chair of the University's facilities planning committee, said that while Moeser will make the ultimate decision, options for using the building will be reviewed by the Department of Facilities Planning and various other committees before any recommendations are made.
"If it's a well-thought-out use, it needs to be used in competition with other viable options," Shelton said.
Bruce Runberg, associate vice chancellor for facilities services, also said that any suggestions for the use of Gerrard Hall will be considered.
He said UNC is hiring a historical preservationist for the campus. He estimated that the search for a designer will begin in 60 days. The committee will not begin considering options for Gerrard until they find a designer.
Leech said she hopes the restoration of Gerrard can honor the original intentions of the University's founders.
The building was finished in 1837 as the second campus chapel. It originally served as the primary religious center on campus and as a general meeting space.
Brandy Dykhuizen, a sophomore from Surf City, said that the original purpose of the building should be honored, but she would not use such a space herself. "It's probably going to end up being predominantly Christian, and everyone else will feel uncomfortable to go there," she said.