By BRIANNA WHITE
With major campus renovations on the horizon, the university will begin thinking about how to accommodate student needs in design, parking and housing.
In a forum hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA) Friday afternoon, several campus administrators and SGA President Katie Scott addressed concerns and plans for the changing campus.
President Michael Benson sat on the panel and explained every upcoming project is to better the student experience on campus.
“At the end of the day, everything we do at the university is geared toward our students, and [the students] are the reason we are here,” Benson said.
Consideration on how to improve student centered facilities, such as the Powell Building, was one of the focuses of the changes to campus, Benson said. He added students should have an enjoyable and meaningful experience at Eastern with the needed resources to help them succeed in their education.
Paul Gannoe, director of capital construction and project administration, said his office recently hired additional personnel with experience in management in capital projects, one of which is an architect with 25 years of experience in designing K-12 and higher education buildings.
Gannoe said he and his team are working closely with the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet in Frankfort on projects that exceed the threshold cost of $600,000. He added a lot of the projects that would be happening on campus are under that threshold, but a few are over it.
There are currently no blueprints for renovations to the Powell Building, Gannoe said, because they are in the process of developing a request for proposal to hire a design team that would draw the blueprints.
A concern for many students with the upcoming construction is the parking on campus. Mark Jozefowicz, director of parking and transportation, said they are already working with master planners to evaluate the parking situation.
“What we’re trying to do right now is evaluate where we are now and where we need to be,” Jozefowicz said.
Jozefowicz said he can’t say for certain what the plans will be, but they will be happening soon. He added although a parking structure on campus would be nice, it is expensive. However, Jozefowicz said it could be in the future for campus.
“I think that eventually a parking structure is going to be in our future because as Eastern plans on growing, you’re going to see, probably, the parking being moved to the outskirts of campus because the land in the core is just really too valuable to be using for parking,” Jozefowicz said.
Eastern’s current parking permit cost of $60 could be expected to increase with the changes in parking. After meeting with capital planners, Jozefowicz said he was told Eastern’s parking was too reasonably priced and too convenient.
“Right now, I would say $60 is a bargain for our parking,” Jozefowicz said. “We charge less than any of the other universities…I would think that eventually someday we’re going to have to look at raising our rates a little bit.”
Housing arrangements for some students are changing as soon as January.
April Barnes, assistant dean of students and Housing, said the single Brockton apartments, Brockton 100s and 200s, will be moved offline in January, and the residents will be moved to the Family Brockton Apartments.
Barnes added Family Brockton Apartments will remain open through the spring semester, but will then also be moved offline.
For current Martin Hall residents and staff, Barnes said she can assure arrangements will be made for both housing and employment.
“We plan to house all residents of Martin,” Barnes said. She added Martin Hall staff will be moved to other staffs or given another position in broader housing mission in the Housing office or in other residence halls to ensure they still have a student connection.
Eastern also plans to add a Scholar House for any individual pursuing post secondary education.
David McFaddin, executive director of engagement and regional stewardship, said the facility will add 42 beds and will be geared toward helping its residents in their academic needs. Residents of Eastern’s Scholar House would not have to be enrolled at Eastern. As long as the student is attending any post secondary institution, they can apply for residency in the house, McFaddin said.
The Scholar House concept at its core is about providing single parents a chance to better themselves with a degree, Benson said. The scholar house would provide child care for the parents, such as a fenced area for their children to play, as well as a daycare facility.
The Scholar House will be located where one of the current Brockton Apartment Complexes resides, and the back part of the lot will be looking over the Intramural Fields., Benson said.
As a direct result of the recent threat, the university’s security is also upgrading its camera security infrastructure, said Bryan Makinen, executive director of public safety and risk management.
In addition, Eastern is undergoing an RFP process to engage a third party consultant for advice and consultation on the integration of the currently existing infrastructures and what improvements are recommended with a university the size of Eastern.
Services in the campus police department and the entire division of public safety will continue to expand and mentor as the campus grows, Makinen added. He explained Eastern has staffing and capabilities that are mentored with any of the existing threat models available to Eastern for an institution its size.
“We actually go above and beyond in many regards currently so that we are poised now for an ever expanding student base, which we are anticipating,” Makinen said. “We are in a position now that we can handle the growth, and we are poised to handle the growth of the university for the coming years.”