By Adam Baker/News writer

After the command “dig” from Student Government Association President Mary Hall, various local and state officials broke ground on a new multi-million dollar addition to campus last Friday. The special groundbreaking ceremony was held on land behind Keene Hall, south of the Eastern Bypass, where a nearly $45 million Business and Technology Center will be constructed. Friday’s event was the first step in Phase I construction of the project, which is expected to be finished by fall 2005.

“When completed, the Business and Technology Center will be a focal point for EKU and the community,” said Robert Rogow, dean of the College of Business and Technology. “It (the center) will touch and improve the lives of all Eastern Kentuckians.”

The $14 million Phase I will consist of a 78,000-square-foot academic building to house part of the College of Business and Technology along with numerous state outreach programs.

Standing on the ground where the new center will one day be located and fighting strong winds, President Joanne Glasser called the ceremony an “exciting day.”

“The winds of success and the winds of excitement are certainly blowing on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University today and certainly for the College of Business and Technology,” she said.

Glasser added the center will send “a very, very strong message to several constituencies,” including current and future students enrolled in programs within the College of Business and Technology.

“It will give them the best possible learning environment, not only in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but I dare say the entire country,” she said.

Glasser also noted the center will help Eastern in its mission to “become a regional university of national distinction.”

Madison County Judge Executive Kent Clark expects to see local economic value from the Center and said it is “the last jewel in the crown of that vision that we’ve all had for so long that makes Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond and Madison County the very best of everything for everybody.”

Also speaking at the event were State Rep. Harry Moberly and State Sen. Ed Worley; both were crucial in securing funding for center.

Moberly explained the first part of the project has been funded, but about $30 million is still needed for the remaining two phases. He attributed the “temporary downturn in the economy” for the lack in funds.

Worley said in his nearly 24 years of politics and government he had never seen a local project go unfinished.

“It’s my commitment to you that Rep. Moberly and I will see this finished and we will fully fund this and we’ll see all three phases finished,” he said.

The two additional construction phases are expected to add a 1,500-seat performing arts center, conference facilities and exhibition space. Classrooms and facilities for communications and technology programs are also planned in the additional phases.