PSU unveils $46M building projects

Students lead the way,
donors follow

JAY BENEDICT | Managing Editor

At last night’s SGA meeting, PSU President Steve Scott and
associate vice president of campus life Steve Erwin presented
the university’s plan to raise $24 million using student fee
increases to fund three multimillion-dollar projects.
The university wants to increase student fees by $30
each year for fi ve years, starting with the Fall 2012 semester.
The money generated by the fee increase will help fund
expansion of the Overman Student Center, the Weede athletic
complex, and construction of the PSU Fine and Performing
Arts Center. “We asked ourselves, ‘What
do we want the campus to look like over the next 10 years,’”
Scott said. “These projects will greatly improve the university
immediately and will benefit generations to come.”
If approved, the fee will be assessed each semester of
enrollment, meaning students will pay $60 for the 2012-2013
academic year. The fee will top out at $300 during the 2016-
2017 academic year. As PSU pays off the debt, the fees will
decrease to $105 each semester starting in Fall 2017.
“The $30 increase each year is the highest we’ll go because
some of the necessary funding might be attained through
private donors,” Scott said. “That’s why we want to use a
graduated increase. We might not need as much as we’re
planning for.”

What it will pay About $14 million of the $24 million will go to the Overman
Student Center renovations, which means it will be entirely funded by students.
Over half of the student center will be new and 20 percent of the old building will be
renovated. Both the University Club and Gorilla Crossing are being expanded to include more
seating and dining options. The proposal also moves the entire Student Activities Council,
SGA and Campus Activities Center offices to the main level
of the building.

“Emporia State and Missouri Southern just spent similar sums of money on improvements
to their campus and they were both paid for solely by students,” Erwin said.
Students will also cover $7 million of the $30 million the new performing arts center will
cost. Scott says it’s been 30 years since PSU had a performing arts center that could host
nationally renowned speakers and artists. The new structure will have two performance
halls and plenty of space for artists to create and display their work.

“We could break ground on the performance center if we know we can secure the funding
to start,” Erwin said. The Weede renovations and expansion are projected to cost
$12 million and the remaining $3 million of student fees will go toward that. The renovation
includes a facelift for John Lance Arena, new coaches’
offices, an expanded weight room, an indoor football fi eld, and a 300-meter indoor track.
Erwin says that in addition to easing the overcrowding of the current Weede, students will
also have access to the new features. “I think the Indoor Event Facility can be a local economic
engine,” Scott said. “We could use it to host trade shows and community events.”
Student help vital Scott and Erwin said that student support is important. Donors respond more favorably
if they see that the students are behind the plans. It’s easier to raise funds if the students are
willing to chip in, too. “It’s a lot easier to get the last million dollars for a project
than it is to get the first million,” Scott said.

The two also said that the plan is important to Pitt State’s growth. The Student Rec Center,
Student Health Center, and Crimson Commons were all built without signifi cant student
investment, and PSU’s enrollment has increased each year since their completion.
What’s next
While all the projects are still in the planning stage, Scott
said all the buildings could be completed within fi ve years, if
they have the students’ backing. It will take about two years to
complete the performing arts center. There is about another
10 months in planning and a year in construction for the Indoor
Event Facility. The student center renovation has another
two years of planning and about that much time in construction
before its completion.

“When I think about the tech center, a new performing arts center, and a new Weede near Ford and
Homer and the renovated student center as the hub of our campus,” Scott said, “I can’t help but think
that’s a solid foundation for our university for years to come.” Scott and Erwin want to put the fee
increase to an online student vote during the week to gauge student support the week before spring break. They
will then assess those results and decide what the next move is. For more information on the plans
visit www.pittstate.edu/mycampus.

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