CPE sends projects list to legislature

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

Kentucky General Assembly convened on Jan. 3 to discuss the 2012-14 state education needs and to review a list of statewide campus renovations and improvements compiled and submitted by the Council for Postsecondary Education.

On Nov. 15, the CPE refined a list of capital construction and legislative priorities created by Kentucky’s universities for the KGA to review and dictate the importance of the CPE’s inquiries.

Should KGA approve the list of priorities, Murray State University, which proposed a list of desired improvements to the CPE in November, would be in line to receive funding for campus expansions and renovations as early as May 2012.

Based on a specific set of criteria created by President Randy Dunn and the University Board of Regents, a list of projects was created in order of importance, tabled and then voted on before being sent to the CPE for further evaluation and eventual submission to the KGA.

Tom Denton, vice president of Finance and Administrative Affairs, revealed the basic process required to draw up the list of improvements for the CPE and eventually Kentucky Legislature.

“Facilities management maintains a database of capital needs, conditions of buildings, enrollment and total demand,” he said. “Needs are then determined by the president, vice president, provost and facilities management and then amended and approved by the Board of Regents.”

Denton also said University projects totaling more than $600,000 must be approved by the KGA regardless of whether the University has funding available for the specific project or must be provided by the state in order to begin.

Bob Jackson, associate vice president for Internal Affairs, described the University’s top four projects needing funding by priority.

•Murray State’s ultimate goal in the next two years is to construct and complete the final phase of the Science Complex – namely the Engineering and Physics buildings. Costing an estimated $33 million dollars and covering 72,500 square feet, the new facility will replace Blackburn with cutting edge technology, state-of-the-art classrooms with high sustainability and high-powered research labs.

•Another leading priority for the University is an upgrade to the main electrical distribution system. At more than 40 years old, the central plant substation would be replaced along with underground cables and switches in order to create reliable, efficient electricity for the campus and its outlying areas. Estimates value the project close to $12 million.

•Valued at $62 million and third on the list of upgrades, a new University library would supplement both Pogue and Waterfield libraries, becoming the central beacon of higher learning for the campus. In Fall 2009, a conducted study on library feasibility deduced both libraries unfit to meet the total needs of the campus, bringing the need for a new library to the forefront of University upgrades.

•Finally, a nearly $20 million project has been proposed as Murray State looks to expand with a Madisonville Postsecondary Education Center. The building would encompass almost 63,000 gross square feet and be located near the current location of Madisonville Community College. Madisonville residents, widely considered underserved in the Murray State region, would then have the option to attend MCC or Murray State for four-year baccalaureate degrees.

Other projects on the list include a renovation of Blackburn Science Facility ($31 million), construction of a new Breathitt Veterinary Center ($32.5 million), construction of a new regional Paducah campus facility ($11 million) and a new campus steam distribution system ($5 million).

The CPE list included several asset preservation and major renovation projects as key priorities for the 2012-14 biennium including upgrading electrical distribution, replacing steam distribution, abating asbestos, replacing the University Expo Center roof, renovation of Blackburn and constructing the new science complex.

Projects listed for consideration under the 2016-18 biennium include construction of the new library, construction of the Madisonville Postsecondary Center and construction of the new Breathitt Veterinary Center.

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