Where will the money go?

Jessica White

Kent State officials have finalized the breakdown of the $210 million in campus-wide renovations, although the Ohio Board of Regents has not approved the proposal for the bond money. The total renovation cost is expected to be about $250 million, but the university is seeking $210 million of that total to come from the bonds.

Nearly $134 million of the total $210 million will go to the School of Art, the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and the science corridor, where Smith and Cunningham Halls are located.

“More than 30 academic buildings will be renovated with the money,” said Iris Harvey, vice president of university relations.

For the School of Art, the plan calls to combine the Art Building and the adjacent Van Deusen Hall into one updated and energy-efficient building, with new walls and roofs, new mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, power, lighting and security systems. The construction will cost about $44 million and in addition will consolidate the School of Art program into one building, rather than the six it’s located in now.

Forty-five million dollars will go towards a new home for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, which also consolidates the program into one building. It is currently based in Taylor Hall, Lowry Hall and the Tri-Towers Rotunda. Harvey said she doesn’t know where the building will go yet.

The science facility projects include renovations in Williams, Smith and Cunningham halls, all three of which have had no substantive improvements since their original construction in the late 1960s. Each will receive additions for classroom or research space, and the renovations will improve energy efficiency through new windows and insulation. The estimated cost for all the science projects is about $47 million.

Harvey said most of the renovations are on a list of about $350 million in deferred maintenance projects that were evaluated last year.

“We had an independent consultant come in, and they identified deferred maintenance that needs to be done on a variety of buildings across the campus.”

Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, hasn’t approved the plan and is waiting for a new proposal that meets several points he has been negotiating with Kent State administrators and officials, one of which is holding any student fees until after construction is complete.

If the proposal is approved by Kent State’s Nov. 8 goal to meet the bond deadline, construction will begin in 2012.

Kent State officials said the construction schedule is not certain, but the anticipated initial phase will include renovations in Stewart, Harbourt and Heer Halls. They will be renovated for administrative functions so current administrative space in other buildings can be freed for academic use. Lowry and Moulton Halls will also be renovated to become the new homes for the College of Public Health.

During construction, classes will be relocated to other buildings, Harvey said.

She said the construction will last for five years, but some current students will get to see the changes.

“Every student will get an opportunity to benefit from some of the construction that will be done because of how the timeline is laid out,” Harvey said.

She also said the projects are in students’ interests because Kent State is investing in the kind of updated facilities and tools students need to be competitive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“It’s a good investment,” she said, “and we think it’s the right thing to do.”

Contact Jessica White at [email protected].