Kent State receives roughly $23.25 million from state for maintenance, renovation projects

Capital Budget Infographic

Emma Andrus Reporter

Renovations to Kent State’s School of Fashion, one of several planned maintenance projects across its campuses, will soon be underway with funds from Senate Bill 310, signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. 

The annual capital budget, which took effect Dec. 29, funds various construction, maintenance and renovation projects statewide. The 2021-2022 budget allocates more than $2 billion to higher education, K-12 institutions, mental health and addiction services, infrastructure and more throughout the state. Kent State will receive $23.25 million for projects across its main and regional campuses. 

Renovations to Rockwell Hall, which houses the School of Fashion, is one of the main projects supported by the capital budget, said Joseph Graham, interim executive director and university architect for the Office of the University Architect. 

“Now that the funding is approved, we’re working with our consulting design teams, with the dean and the director of the School [of Fashion] and trying to develop those priorities,” Graham said. “But it will look at a renovation for improvements to the existing Rockwell Hall and then it will look forward to renovations or possibly an expansion that would benefit the program.”

Other key maintenance projects include ADA improvements to campus and the replacement of outdated HVAC systems in White Hall in order to improve air quality, said Douglas Pearson, associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Operations.

“The ADA Committee … will be meeting here soon to determine what their priorities are, whether it’s actual issues, or handicap openers, or bathroom upgrades,” Pearson said. “They will pick the projects that we’re going to do.”

Construction on projects such as the White Hall improvements are anticipated to begin as early as this upcoming summer, Pearson said. The Board of Trustees are scheduled to vote on whether to approve the projects in its March 10 meeting. With its approval, the projects will then be able to move forward.

With an anticipated summer start, projects will likely take two years to completely finish, Pearson said. 

The funding from the state is not related to Kent State’s Gateway Master Plan, Graham said.

“The Gateway Master Plan really focuses on kind of those big transformational projects: the College of Business, ISB [Integrated Sciences Building] build out,” Graham said. “These are our deferred maintenance projects, or opportunities for us to maintain our buildings.”

Funding from the capital bill plays an important role in the function of the university, said Nicholas Gattozzi, executive director of Government and Community Relations.

“It’s a critical part of our budget and making sure we’re producing and have facilities that are conducive for learning and not just conducive, but also inspiring for the learning environments of students,” Gattozzi said.

The funding will have “a significant impact” on the campus as it will help with the maintenance projects not covered under the Master Plan, Graham said. 

“The university has a large number of buildings … and many if not all of them have a deferred maintenance need,” Graham said. “We’re extremely grateful to the State of Ohio and the legislature for passing the capital bill. It goes a long way to keeping our buildings safe and operating properly for our students, faculty and staff.”

Emma Andrus covers administration. Contact her at [email protected].