New funds needed from Board of Regents, says Lefton
DetailsCreated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 23:40 Written by Julie Sickel Hits: 1410
Chancellor Eric Fingerhut is out and Chancellor James Petro is in, as are plans to re-propose $210 million in bonds to the Ohio Board of Regents for a $250 million renovation project at Kent State.
President Lester Lefton and the Board of Trustees had hoped that the former Chancellor Fingerhut would approve bonds for university-wide renovations by November 2010 in order to qualify for low-interest Build America Bonds.
The November deadline came and went without an approval from Fingerhut.
When Fingerhut stepped down in February, Lefton said he had plans to propose the bonds to the newly appointed chancellor.
“I have sent him a letter telling him I intend to talk about this and that it is a high priority for Kent State,” Lefton said.
But a new proposal will have a different price tag.
“We are coming up with a new proposal but it will cost more because the old chancellor wouldn’t let us get the bonds when they were cheap, or less expensive,” Lefton said.
“There is no student here currently that will be paying the new fee. The fee will start up in a couple years. But the students will also get to benefit from some of the new facilities before they graduate." - Lester Lefton
Fingerhut’s opposition to the university’s bonds proposal was the fee structure for students.
Students would be charged $7 per credit hour beginning in 2012 and gradually increased to $24 per credit hour by 2016. Lefton said a new proposal would be the same, but would be pushed back one year.
Fingerhut previously said he didn’t want students paying for renovations they weren’t going to see before they graduate.
Campus renovations at other universities are normally paid for by tuition alone, but because tuition is already lower than other Ohio universities, the special fees are needed for a renovation of this scale, Lefton said.
Fees at other universities are typically used for auxiliary purposes like football stadiums or student unions, but Lefton said he thinks academic buildings are a better investment.
“There is no student here currently that will be paying the new fee,” Lefton said. “The fee will start up in a couple years. But the students will also get to benefit from some of the new facilities before they graduate.”
“The board is committed to doing this. This isn’t Lestermania.” - Lester Lefton
The previously proposed bonds would help to renovate 30 buildings across campus.
Now, Lefton said university officials are revisiting how a new bond proposal would be distributed for renovations with the higher interest rates.
“Our priorities are still the same,” said Lefton. “The order might be different.”
Those priorities include renovations on buildings like Bowman and Satterfield halls, the science labs, the architecture building and the art building.
“It allows us to make some critical reinvestments in the campus that are desperately needed to maintain and improve the facilities across the campus overall,” said Gregg Floyd, vice president of finance and administration.
Because the Board of Trustees already approved a $210 million bonds proposal, a new proposal for the same amount will not need to be voted on again.
“The board has already agreed on a fee structure, what we will get and how we will get it,” said Lefton. “The board is committed to doing this. This isn’t Lestermania.”
Lefton said it is too soon to tell if Petro will be different than Fingerhut, but he looks forward to working with him in the future.
“I expect that he will see the value of academic buildings as opposed to a football stadium that only gets used seven days a year,” Lefton said. “We’re in the academic business here.”