The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents, meeting in special session on Friday, March 20, unanimously approved a student fee that will fund two cornerstone features of a proposed Center for Student Life.
EKU’s Student Senate had earlier given its overwhelming approval to a $150-per-semester student fee, which will go into effect this fall and remain in place for the next 20 years, to fund a much larger recreation center and renovated student union. Funds for the fee will be used to serve the agency bond debt incurred by the University for the purpose of improving, renovating and/or constructing student-centric facilities.
The proposed CSL also encompasses other facilities to be built or renovated in the heart of the Richmond campus as well as new landscaping features.
Pending approval by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) at its next meeting, April 16-17, initial design work and project cost estimates for the CSL are expected to be completed by October. EKU officials anticipate the final agency bond amount will be submitted to the CPE and Finance Cabinet this December for inclusion in the 2016 budget request and will then seek General Assembly approval next year to begin the project.
“The proposed Center for Student Life is vital to our efforts to exceed expectations, especially as we step up our efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest students, faculty and staff,” Benson said. “The CSL is the singular feature of our comprehensive renewal efforts as we re-envision the historic core of campus to become a busy and exciting hub of campus activity and better serve the holistic needs of students.
“I hope that all segments of our campus community will continue to share their hopes and dreams in the weeks and months ahead,” Benson said. “Out of that constructive dialogue, a campus master plan that incorporates this revitalization will come into sharper focus. I have shared some very preliminary concept renderings only as a starting point, and I look forward to hearing especially from our students as we move further into the planning and design phase. It is that shared vision that will ultimately lead EKU to become the number one college choice for prospective students in our region and the envy of our peers nationwide. When that happens, we all win.”
University officials said that, in taking up the matter, the Student Senate followed the process stipulated by the CPE, with the timeline for the vote tied to the deadlines of various approving agencies and getting the project before the General Assembly for its 2016 session.
Other components of the Center for Student Life, to be funded by a combination of public-private partnerships, private funds and the University, are expected to include:
new residence halls
a new dining-only facility
a multi-level parking garage
the Noel Reading Porch on the south side of Crabbe Library and an adjacent pedestrian plaza between the Library and the Weaver Building
Carloftis Garden (at the former site of the Martin Hall tennis courts)
a Lancaster Avenue pedestrian gateway at the site of the now-demolished Combs residence hall.
Changes on the Richmond campus are hardly limited to the CSL. Many other ongoing and planned projects are addressing facilities in need of renovation and enhancing the curb appeal of Eastern.