University seeks bonds for major renovations

Officials hope strategy provides $175 million

Kent State may soon issue bonds to help finance the upgrading of buildings throughout campus.

At the Board of Trustees’ July meeting, board members asked administrators for a proposal by the end of September that would explain how the university would spend the money, where the priorities would be, and how to repay the money.

“I would say in the next three to four months, we would have this plan completed for sure,” Provost Robert Frank said. “The board wants to see it much sooner than that.”

The board wants a proposal soon so the university can take advantage of the current low fixed interest rates.

Gregg Floyd, vice president for finance, said he doesn’t know how much the university will be able to get.

“We don’t know how much the market will tell us we can comfortably get,” he said. “But we’re looking probably at trying to get $175 million.”

Floyd said a study last spring said the university potentially needed $353 million of work among its eight campuses.

Buildings being considered for renovation on the Kent campus are Taylor Hall, the Art Building, the Art Annex, Van Deusen Hall, Williams Hall, Smith Hall and Cunningham Hall. Science labs also need to be updated.

“The laboratories are not as up-to-date and current as they need to be,” Floyd said.

Four groups will study different aspects of the project:

&bull An academic group is looking at the academic goals during the next 10 to 20 years on campus and how the buildings will need to respond to that.

&bull A facilities group is looking at which buildings need the most help.

&bull A financial group is looking at how they would put this financing together for the university.

&bull A fourth is looking at buildings on campus that are funded through student fees and costs of living on campus such as the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and the residence halls.

An oversight committee will be made up of four members of President Lefton’s cabinet and four members from the Board of Trustees.

Michael Bruder, director of Design and Construction from the Office of University Architect, said all of the project information is in speculation right now while the oversight committee works on putting it all together.

The University of Akron has been working in the past decade on a similar project. Akron has spent $385 million adding 18 buildings and $84 million renovating 25 existing ones.

Frank said the upgrades and renovations are important to Kent State.

“I think we have emphasized it, and rightfully so because students like to go to places that look good,” Frank said.

Bruder said it’s more than looking good; it’s a whole new look.

“This has the potential to reshape campus,” he said.

Contact academic affairs reporter Jamie Shearer at [email protected] and transportation, buildings and grounds reporter Rachel Rathjens at [email protected]