Trustees focus on academic facility enhancements

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The BGSU Board of Trustees approved $28 million in capital improvements at its final meeting of 2014 in a continuation of the University’s efforts to upgrade academic buildings and support projects that enhance student success.

“This investment goes beyond bricks and mortar. It’s an investment in our students,” said Board President Fran Voll “All of the projects were strategically selected and designed with the overarching goal of fostering student success.”

All but $5 million of the projects are part of the University’s $200 million master plan for the Bowling Green campus.

The Bowen-Thompson Student Union will be the new home of Career Services and the Office of Student Employment. The offices will move from the Mathematical Sciences Building, taking the place of the second-floor space of the University Bookstore. The move provides a centralized location and easier access to these critical services, benefiting both the students and the employers seeking to hire them. The $2 million cost of the project will come from existing reserves.

The Department of Architecture and Environmental Design will be united under one roof in the Park Avenue Warehouse, which will be renovated at a cost of about $4 million. Currently the department has space in four campus areas.  The unification will enable the program to pursue full accreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board and launch a new master’s degree.

Also at the meeting, the trustees initiated the next step in transforming the academic spaces of BGSU’s Traditions Buildings and laid the groundwork for the new College of Business Building with their approval of infrastructure improvements critical to electrical, mechanical, plumbing and sewer systems in Moseley, Hanna, South and University halls and the surrounding areas. The infrastructure improvements also provide the opportunity for BGSU to continue its commitment to energy conservation and management called for in Ohio House Bill 251, according to CFO Sheri Stoll.

The board approved initial engineering services at its June meeting, and at the December meeting approved the next phase, which includes constructing a high- efficiency zone chiller plant in the Centrex Building that will cool the Traditions buildings, McFall Center, Founders Residence Hall, and the new Business Administration Building.

The cost for this phase is projected at $13 million.

Trustees also approved funding for the completion of the Greek housing replacement project, a series of townhome style residences to be built along East Wooster Street. The new housing plan is designed to help strengthen and grow BGSU’s vital Greek community. Greek Life participation can help drive student success both academically and through leadership opportunities.

Renovations approved for Eppler North will provide superior learning spaces for the Apparel Merchandising and Product Development, Human Development, and Family Studies programs. Their current homes, Johnston Hall and the Family and Consumer Sciences building, will be demolished in 2016. Food and Nutrition will move to the Health and Human Services Building. The cost of the renovations to Eppler is expected to be $1 million.

Also approved was a significant step in BGSU’s ongoing efforts in creating modern, flexible classroom spaces that facilitate and support cooperative and problem-based learning. Informed by the implementation of the prototype active-learning classrooms in Olscamp Hall, renovations to heavily used classrooms in the campus core identified by the Campus Master Plan will allow for maximum flexibility and a variety of teaching styles and preferences. Educational technology in the rooms will be standardized so faculty may move seamlessly between them. These spaces are in the Education Building, Olscamp Hall, the Mathematical Sciences Building, Eppler and Business Administration.  The cost is projected at $4 million, a portion of which will come from existing state capital funds.

A new, expanded parking lot for the Union and the northwest quadrant of campus will provide easier access and are part of the extensive campus parking and road improvements approved by the trustees.  The relocation of the architecture program, completion of the nearby BCI facility, and construction of the new aviation studies building on Poe Road called for upgrades to corridors serving them. The $4 million projects will begin in fiscal year 2015 and completed in fiscal year 2016.

In other board action, the University expanded its commitment to preparing future educators by redesigning the current associate degree in early childhood education to align with the corresponding bachelor’s degree program, which includes teaching children with special needs. In 2012, the College of Education and Human Development began offering the first program in the state in inclusive early childhood, giving prospective teachers the skills and knowledge to work with children with special needs.

BGSU Firelands will offer the new associate degree.

In other action, eight faculty were granted promotion, and two honorary degrees were approved.