Center for Student Life Takes Major Step Forward with Student Senate Vote
A proposed Center for Student Life (CSL) that is expected to “transform the holistic ‘Eastern Experience’” for Eastern Kentucky University students took a major step forward on March 3.
The EKU Student Senate approved by a 24-5 margin a $150-per-semester student fee for the next 20 years that will fund two of the cornerstones of the Center: a new, much larger Fitness and Wellness Center and a renovated student union. The CSL will also comprise facilities and landscaping features to be built or renovated in the heart of the Richmond campus that EKU President Michael Benson said would “make EKU the number one college choice for prospective students in our region and the envy of our peers nationwide.”
The measure required 75 percent approval by the Student Senate for passage. The fee goes into effect this fall.
“I believe the Student Senate has made a decision to invest in the future of our University and the people it serves,” said Student Government Association and Student Regent Kyle Nicholas. “We have secured the means to provide a student experience that will be second to none, ensuring that our campus community will continue to grow and progress for the benefit of all.”
Students are footing the costs for only a small portion of the CSL, the remainder of which will be financed by a combination of public-private partnerships, private funds and the University. Other components of the Center are expected to include new residence halls, a new dining-only facility, a multi-level parking garage, the Noel Reading Porch on the south side of Crabbe Library and an adjacent pedestrian plaza between the Library and the Weaver Building, Carloftis Garden (in the former site of the Martin Hall tennis courts) and a Lancaster Avenue pedestrian gateway (site of the now-demolished Combs residence hall).
“I commend the EKU Student Senate for the careful attention it gave to considering the proposed Center for Student Life,” Benson said in a message to the campus today. “The Senators worked long and hard to understand the issues and implications of this new fee and what it means to the future of our campus; their approval allows us now to move forward on many fronts.
“In the coming weeks and months, everyone will begin to see immediate progress as we forge ahead with planning, design, implementation and construction on a project that will transform Eastern for generations to come,” Benson continued. “A hearty thank you to these student senators for taking their responsibility so seriously and for their faith in and commitment to what promises to be an incredibly impactful and positive project for our University. Through their bold and visionary leadership, they have left a lasting legacy and enriched the value of an EKU degree, even for those who may never take advantage of these additions to our campus.”
Students will play an active role in deciding the features of both the Fitness and Wellness Center and renovated student union, Benson said.
John Perrin, chair of the Student Senate’s Committee on Committees, said he was “truly excited what my fellow students will have to offer when the design phase begins, and I look forward to seeing the end result of all of the hard work that everyone has put into this project.”
Rachael Lander, executive vice president of the Student Government Association, said the Senate’s decision is “for the betterment of not only us but, most especially, the future generations of EKU students. We have just made clear, through this decision to move forward with such a profound project, that the future truly is now. I can’t wait to see where this takes this University.”
The student fee now awaits formal approval from the Board of Regents and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Initial design work and project cost estimates are expected to be completed by October. EKU officials anticipate the final agency bond amount will be submitted to the CPE and Finance Cabinet this December for inclusion in the 2016 budget request and will then seek General Assembly approval next year to begin the project.
“Our faculty and staff already do a tremendous job providing a 21st Century education for our students,” Benson said. “Soon we will also enjoy the 21st Century campus that this great University and her students deserve. It’s a great time to be a Colonel!”
Published on March 04, 2015