Finance and Administration Committee recommends four capital projects, podiatric medicine tuition raise

Jocy Holtsberry, Reporter

Four university construction projects and increasing tuition for the College of Podiatric Medicine were the focus of the Board of Trustees’ Finance and Administration Committee meeting Friday.

The meeting started with a proposal to increase in and out-of-state tuition rates for the College of Podiatric Medicine by 3%. 

“The proposed fees are appropriate and necessary to maintain quality, our service levels and market competitive competitiveness,” said Mark Polatajko, senior vice president of finance and administration.

The committee brought forth four capital projects. Capital projects are construction and renovation projects that require a budget proposal or amendment.

The first capital project was an amendment to the ice arena and marching band practice facility renovation. 

This project was initially brought to the Board of Trustees during the June 2021 meeting. The original proposal was $6.5 million meant to reroute the whole building, restore restrooms and transfer the recreational rink to a practice facility for the marching band, Polatajko said.

Now, the committee is recommending a project budget increase of $6.57 million, making the proposed total $13.25 million.

This budget increase is due to a membership increase within the marching band. 

“The program scope had to change pretty dramatically in order to meet the needs of the larger band, which continues to be a strategic enrollment management priority for our university,” Polatajko said.

The strategic enrollment strategy exceeded expectations. 

“When we originated this project and this idea we wanted to grow the marching band from roughly 150 to 230,” President Todd Diacon said. “But we went from 150 to 220 marching band members in a year, so we thought ‘Can we expand the Ice Arena project to 300 marching band students and succeed even more in our enrollment management goals?’”

The practice facility renovation brings benefits to more than just the marching band, it also will bring in additional revenue through tuition.

“Going from the 230 to 300 [marching band members], that’s an additional $700,000 in tuition and fees alone in perpetuity if you maintain that size,” Polatajko said. “So you know, from a cash flow perspective, it covers this additional cost [of the project] without a problem.”

The next capital project recommended a $5 million renovation and repair project to the airport hangar.

Renovations will focus on structural, electrical, paint and miscellaneous repairs.

“[The hangar] is at a stage where significant repairs are required which will extend the useful life by approximately 20 years,” Polatajko said.

State and federal grants along with a university budget designated to facility renovation will fund the project.

The third capital project relates to the Student Center where severe weather and wind caused permanent roof damage.

The expected cost of the project is $1.34 million. The majority of costs are covered by insurance with any deductibles covered by auxiliary renewal and replacement funds, Polatajko said.

The final capital project proposed by the committee is the replacement of the steam and condensate lines serving Tri Towers residence halls. These lines provide heat and hot water to the residence halls.

“The existing infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life and requires repairs routinely,” Polatajko said. “Now is a really important time that we actually address the replacement here.”

University facilities plant replacement local funds will fund the project’s $1.8 million budget.

The committee’s recommendations will be voted on by the Board of Trustees at their business meeting at 9:30 a.m. on March 9 on the second floor of the Le Meridien Columbus.

Jocy Holtsberry is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].