One Saturday in early May, department chair and professor of government Lynette Noblitt went to her office in Beckham Hall only to find it flooded.
“I went to grade finals and walked into splish splash,” Noblitt said. “The water came all the way down from the third to the first floor.”
Noblitt said Facilities Services cleaned up the water upon notification.
On Aug. 7, Noblitt received an email from Facilities Services informing her it was unsafe to be in the building and the government department had to have everything from the first floor out of the building, Noblitt said.
With the damage from the springtime water flooding and no properly functioning air-conditioner units, mold took over and the air quality declined.
“Some places on the walls were soft to the touch,” Noblitt said.
Brian Wilcox, associate vice president of Capital Construction and Facilities Services, who began at EKU this summer, described the building issues as minor and that the repairs are general upkeep issues.
Wilcox said to his knowledge, Beckham Hall still had its original slate roofing, and with the exception of some units that were replaced 20 years ago, most of the air-conditioning units were the original units installed in 1938.
“It was horrible to email the faculty and say we only have couple days to get everything out,” Noblitt said.
Noblitt and her colleagues searched for new spaces with only three weeks until the beginning of classes. On Aug. 13, the government department moved all of its belongings from the first floor to temporary locations in Miller and Keith Halls with the help of campus IT.
“We’re lucky we have the swing space to find a space quickly to house the faculty,” Wilcox said.
At the August 2018 Employee Convocation, President Michael Benson introduced the Asset Preservation Fee that was approved by the Board of Regents in June.
The fee is designed to preserve and maintain older and historic buildings on campus. Benson named Beckham, Commonwealth, Moore and Wallace buildings as priorities to receive the funds.
While the new fee would generally go towards projects like this, President Benson wrote in an Aug. 21 email to The Progress, “As we are just now collecting the Asset Preservation Fee for the first time and it will take some time to accumulate, the acute challenges we face with Beckham (water damage and mold) require that we direct other institutional funds immediately to fix these problems.The faculty and staff are being relocated as appropriate, and the facilities will be repaired and restored. This is a significant problem and it is a top priority for our Facilities Services and Environmental Health Services Teams.”
“The University will fund the repairs to Beckham Hall from Education and General Maintenance Funds within Facilities Services organization,” Barry Poynter, vice president and treasure of finance and administration, said in an email statement.
Poynter said that funds from the new Asset Preservation Fee may be utilized sometime in the future.
“This has not been determined yet, but the expenditure for the Beckham Hall repairs would certainly qualify for reimbursement from the Asset Preservation Fee funds,” Poynter said.
Facilities Services has worked on the building throughout the summer, but Wilcox projects it will be a couple more months before the building will be reopened.
Beckham Hall was built in 1938 and named after the 35th governor of Kentucky, John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham.
Beckham was an alumnus of Central Kentucky University, which would later become Eastern Kentucky University.