Board of Regents discusses library renovations, external audit reports

Board of Regents meeting from 2018

Emily DeLetter

An update on the new WKU Library’s Commons project was presented to the Board of Regents during its quarterly meeting Friday.

Dean of Libraries Susann deVries and Gensler architects David Broz and Brian Watson presented their ideas for the renovation in Helm Library as an information item to the Board. deVries said she hoped that the new Commons would be an “intellectual hub that invigorates engagement, stimulates learning and creates a space where ideas are shared.”

The project was awarded to Gensler, an international design firm that focuses on office buildings, library spaces and university student centers. The renovations hope to include food spaces as well as collaborative, and social spaces. 

Broz said he hoped the Commons renovation will reflect the present needs of students but will also be ready for the future.

“What you’re looking to build in this library renovation is one of a kind,” Broz said. “It hasn’t been done in the past. We’re at a time where the book is still powerful, but the social interactions are as well.” 

Funding for the renovations comes from a contract signed with Aramark in June 2017 by former President Gary Ransdell. Under the contract, all full-time students not already on a meal plan were required to purchase $150 in flex dollars for the Fall 2018 semester. The fee applies only to “face-to-face” students who take 12 hours or more at Bowling Green’s main campus who chooses to not buy a meal plan.

Beginning in Fall 2019, the cost will be $300 per semester until the fall of 2022, where it will rise to $325, staying at that cost until the fall of 2026, where the final raise in fees will cost students $350 a semester.

President Timothy Caboni said renovations are designed to address the dining spaces in Garrett Conference Center, which are “completely overwhelmed for a small portion of the day and completely underutilized for the rest of the day.”

He also said the new space would be designed in part to attract commuter students, who do not use Downing Student Union as frequently as other on-campus students.

Plans to relocate the commuter parking lot to the top of the hill are underway.

“This is absolutely designed to attract and be a sticky space,” Caboni said. “We don’t just want them to come, we want them to stay and a portion of our audience is our commuter students.”

The Board of Regents also heard a report from an audit of WKU from the fiscal year ending in June 2018 by Crowe. 

Crowe auditor Brad Shelly said while revenues for WKU did not increase, their expenses decreased by $41 million.

“The basic financial statements don’t always tell the accurate picture, or the picture you would like to portray,” Shelly said, referring to discounts and allowances that can be included in financial reports.

The Board heard an updated presentation on theResource Allocation Management and Planning (RAMP) model from Huron consultant Andrew Laws.

The process to implement RAMP began in December.

“Over the course of the last six months, three months and one month, we’ve been increasing the transition of this from the steering committee and Huron to the management team, and that will continue,” Laws said. “The process is started, and we will continue to make updates and engage through the RAMP website.”

News reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @EmilyDeLetter.