By Adam Baker/Editor

Energy behind the university’s first major fund-raising campaign is growing, according to Foundation Chair Dusty McCoy. Foundation assets total $30.5 million, McCoy told Eastern’s Board of Regents via conference call at their regular meeting Friday.

Bart Meyer, vice president of university advancement, told the board the foundation plans to raise $10 million for the campaign before it leaves the “quiet phase.”

“The next few months are very important to Eastern and the capital campaign,” Meyer said.

McCoy told the board a bundle of eight endowments totaling $300,000 is ready to be submitted to the state after the board’s approval.

Regents endorsed the foundation’s actions and the pledges will be sent for matching through the Council on Postsecondary Education’s Bucks for Brains program.

Associate Vice President of University Development Joseph Foster said another bundle of gifts will be ready for the board’s approval soon.

Regents voted to allow the board’s chairman, C. Fred Rice, to endorse the gifts on behalf of the entire board if the bundle is ready before they assemble again in January.

Meyer explained actual cash gifts, as of Sept. 16, total $558,537, compared to $220,065 this time last year.

The capital campaign, the first in Eastern’s history, began this summer.

The campaign is divided into five categories: endowments for students, endowments for faculty, endowments for academic programs, campus improvements and new initiatives.

Forty percent of funds raised will be allotted to students and the rest will be divided equally among the other categories.

Since its start, the campaign has been in a quiet stage. In this initial part of the campaign efforts will be made to secure gifts of $100,000 and up before going public.

Officials said due to a decrease in the amount of help expected from the state, the capital campaign is needed to improve teaching and learning environments at Eastern.

Also at the meeting, Meyer said the university would continue its student-run phone-a-thon this year to gather donations from alumni for scholarships.

Last year’s phone-a-thon was the university’s first. This year’s drive started Wednesday.

The phone-a-thon last year raised $241,000 for the Alumni Fund for Scholarships. Meyer told the board he plans to raise $1.5 million during a five- year period.

Regents also passed a motion to name the plaza adjacent to the Powell Building, site of the Veteran’s Memorial, Memorial Plaza.

The request was made by the ROTC Alumni Chapter and gained approval by both the board and foundation.

Regents were also updated on various campus construction projects.

Hoping to prevent future blackouts similar to those that have plagued campus in past years, the university entered the final phase of electrical updates last month.

Director of Facilities Services James Street told the board Danville-based M&M Electric signed a $5,080,000 contract extending until February 2006.

“We’re going to be dealing with the electrical system for some time,” Street said.

Street said the company has set up a staging area on the south side of the Eastern Bypass near the water tower. He explained they are gathering equipment and materials now.

He added the company will do their best to work around Eastern’s schedule and avoid interruptions to the community.

“What Eastern does is much more important than what we’re doing,” he said.

An overhaul of the university’s electrical system, some parts estimated over 40 years old, began in 2001.

Millions of dollars have been allocated from the university’s budget and state emergency funds to finance the project.

After the project’s completion the university’s electrical grid will allow problems to be isolated to specific parts of the grid and avoid widespread blackouts.

Initial phases began this month to construct Eastern’s Business and Technology Center.

Street said the company; D.W. Wilburn was awarded the 15-month contract after problems were discovered with the original bidder. He said there were concerns with sub-contractors listed on the company’s bid documents.

D.W. Wilburn is now in an earth moving phase and Street said they would continue excavation through next month.

“I hope to have classes there Spring 2006,” he said.

The nearly $45 million center 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.

Later construction phases will add a 1,500-seat performing arts center, conference facilities and exhibition space. Classrooms and facilities for communication and technology programs are also planned.

Street said work is wrapping up on unoccupied apartments in Combs Hall and plans for the project are to be finished this month.

Reach Adam at