Two new buildings and other construction projects totaling more than $146 million on the Kent State University main campus got the go ahead from university trustees Wednesday.
The Kent State Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to approve four major projects in the more than $186 million total renovation planned in the next several years at the Kent campus.
The projects formally approved Wednesday were and presented informally to the staff and student body . The projects approved Wednesday are part of a broader building and renovation initiative dubbed "Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future,” by Kent State officials.
The projects and their budgets are:Building/Project Target Budget Budget Limit Science facilities renovation and expansion $72 million* $80 million* New $37 million $40 million Renovations, additions to Art buildings $22 million $25 million New College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology building $15 million $15 million *Budget includes $16 million in university capital projects money
Jacqueline Woods, chair of the trustees board, said the board has already been delighted by the daily progress on construction projects such as , and Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center.
"These academic projects will transform the learning process for thousands of Kent State students both now and in the future," Woods said. "These new buildings, combined with several additions, expansions and other improvements, represent a solid financial investment that is both necessary to move us forward as a world-class university and important to meet the demands of our students, staff and faculty."
In addition, the university trustees voted to issue $25 million in bonds to pay for an energy conservation project that will involve replacing windows, HVAC systems, lighting and other elements to cut utility costs. Ohio House Bill 251 requires state universities to reduce energy consumption 20 percent by fiscal year 2014 and is the impetus for the conservation project.
Kent State President Lester Lefton said the house bill allows the university to issue bonds to invest solely in energy projects that will bring savings back to the university.
"So for example, when we put solar panels up on the field house we know, because of various credits that we get that we are able to sell, that pays for itself," Lefton said. "All of these energy efficiencies are sort of self-pays over a period of time. It's like when you put in a new HVAC system in your house and the federal government gives you tax credits. This really reduces the cost almost to zero."
In March, the in to pay for the campus renovation, which includes the four major projects mentioned above.
In addition, Lefton said the state is providing $16 million to the university both for energy efficiency and capital projects.
That means, at minimum, the university will spend $186 million in the next four to six years to upgrade the Kent campus by renovating existing facilities and building a few new structures.
Combine that $186 million with the $25 million in separate energy bonds to be issued for the conservation project, and Kent State will make an initial investment of $211 million in its main campus during the next four years.
When asked if there is an overall budget cap on the campus renovation project, Lefton said "No."
"Any expenditure of more than $1 million, that has not been approved by the board, has to come back before the board," he said. "The caps are approved by our budgetary process. I can't just go out and say 'let's put another buiding here.' Everything requires board approval."
Wednesday's trustees meeting took place at the new Kent State Geauga Campus. University officials , located in Twinsburg just off I-480, earlier in the day Wednesday.
The broader building and renovation initiative includes projects at Kent State's seven regional campuses, such as: a new, 41,140 square-foot Science and Nursing Building at the Stark campus; the Performing Arts Center at Kent State at Tuscarawas; and the new Twinsburg campus.
During the meeting, Lefton painted a broader picture of Kent State's role in stimulating the economy both locally in Kent and regionally across Northeast Ohio.
"When our plans are fully realized, Kent State will have played a key role in a public-private investment in the region’s future totaling nearly $700 million; helped create nearly 1,800 jobs; helped make the city of Kent one of the nation’s most vibrant and visited college towns; and helped improve the quality of life in Northeast Ohio," he said.