Regents pass construction capital plan

Katherine Wade

WKU’s Board of Regents approved the university’s 2012-2018 capital construction plan at its second quarterly meeting on Friday.

The top-three priorities on the capital plan are renovating the science campus, replacing underground infrastructure and constructing a new Gordon Ford College of Business, and renovating Grise Hall.

John Osborne, vice president of Campus Services and Facilities, said renovation of the science campus would involve construction on Thompson Complex Central Wing, removing the Thompson Complex North Wing, renovating Hardin Planetarium and adding space that would accommodate the SKyTeach program.

SKyTeach is a program designed to prepare students who wish to teach science and math in middle or secondary schools.

President Gary Ransdell said it was a priority for the university to provide space for the SKyTeach program to operate.

“Because of its dramatic growth and success and the impact it’s having on the science and math teachers in schools, we wanted to include proper space for the SKyTeach program in the construction plan,” he said.

Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design and Construction, said that whether the new SKyTeach area is built as an addition or a new building is yet to be determined.

Russell said the removal of Thompson Complex North Wing would be the last step in the science campus project. He said that once it’s demolished, the space will become available for other projects in their capital plan. One possible use of the space is a USDA research facility.

These projects are part of the fourth and final phase of the science campus renovation, which began in 1997, Russell said.

“We’ve been working on Ogden College for quite some time,” he said. “We are ready to finish up that area of campus so it will have all been refreshed.”

Osborne said the plan consists of some projects that would be funded by the state, some funded by the university and some funded by private sources. He said the state will prepare the university’s 2012-2014 budget in a period between January and April of next year.

“We’re going to focus our attention of course on the top three on the project list with the state and attempt to get as much if not all of that funded,” he said.

Osborne said the university goes to the state for funding for their academic priorities.

Ransdell said WKU would like to finish up the science campus renovations so they can move on to the new college of business.

“We’ve been dealing with the science facilities for so long,” he said. “It is our No. 1 priority to finish them once and for all.”