Western to control projects

Shawntaye Hopkins

Soon Western’s construction projects will be just that – Western’s projects.

Completely.

Western will take control of all its campus construction ventures that cost more than $400,000 on Nov. 1 by using the University Management Bill.

The bill, which was passed by the state legislature in 1982, allows state universities to manage things such as accounting, investments and construction.

Western already controls all other aspects of the bill except for construction.

Ed West, director of planning design and construction, said the Frankfort Department of Facilities Management currently handles projects costing more than $400,000.

Western controls projects less than that amount.

The parking structure expansion will be the first major project to be completely managed by Western, West said.

University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Murray State University are the only state schools that currently control their construction projects.

Don Riley, associate director for capital construction administration at Murray, said the university has done more than $50 million dollars of construction since 1998.

“The major benefit is we are in control of our own destiny,” Riley said.

West said several small universities don’t have staffs to handle large projects.

But a staff at Western has developed, he said.

West said he and four project managers and a draftsman are ready to take on future projects. He said Western shouldn’t have to rely on the Frankfort department because it has those employees on the Hill.

By controlling its own projects, architect selection and bidding can take place at Western, saving the time that would have been spent going to Frankfort, West said.

He said the decision to control projects was not made because of any problems with the Frankfort department, and that Western is not dissatisfied with any of the work they’ve done.

But it is better to have someone local who can make on-site project decisions, he said. And disagreements that might arise between Western and the Frankfort department will be eliminated.

Western began planning to take control of its construction endeavors about three years ago, West said.

The Board of Regents approved the transition on May 9.

Although delays in completing Mass Media and Technology Hall were not the direct cause of wanting the move, it may have spurred a greater desire.

“We had been considering it, but there were a few things that pushed us over the edge a bit,” West said.

Western will benefit greatly from the change, West said.

“Projects will get done faster and more to our satisfaction because of the attention we will be able to give them full time,” he said.

Riley said he spoke with West and John Osborne, associate vice president for campus services and facilities, about Western’s plans beforehand.

He said he encouraged Western to pursue the plans and would encourage other schools to do the same.

Murray is able to have a more unified campus architectural style, and they get a faster response from architects, engineers and contractors because they can report directly to the university, Riley said.

He said even when there are construction problems, by solving them locally they are solved faster.

“We’ve been very pleased,” Riley said.

On the Hill, it is expected that pleasing results will also occur.

“We feel like this is going to be a positive move for the university,” West said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]