By Monica Chapman
On Tuesday, Governor Ted Strickland signed the two-year $1.3 billion capital appropriations budget allocating $29.5 million to Ohio University's main and regional campuses.
House Bill 562 allots $495 million -- the largest portion of the capital budget -- to Ohio's public universities and community colleges for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
"It's great news that the capital bill has been signed by the governor. We are poised and ready to implement our capital plans to the benefit of Ohio University," said University Planner Pam Callahan.
The largest share of Ohio University's funding -- $9 million -- will be used to complete construction of the 100,000-square-foot Academic & Research Center (ARC), the joint initiative of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology. The facility is one of very few in the nation, designed to foster collaboration and interdisciplinary research that will open up new possibilities for engineering and medical education at the university.
"Due to its unique (nature), this building is a top priority for the university," said Dennis Irwin, dean of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.
The ARC, scheduled for completion in October 2009 and expected to cost $30 million, will connect Irvine Hall and Stocker Hall.
Renovations to the Lausche Heating Plant received $4.41 million in capital support. The project is expected to increase efficiencies, reduce energy costs and extend the life of the heating system. In its third phase of construction, the plant is scheduled to be completed this fall.
A $3.4 million allotment will help fund the partial renovation of Clippinger Hall. The renovation will upgrade and expand the laboratory facilities on Clippinger's second and third floors.
The bill also granted Athens campus more than $5 million for basic renovations, which include a chiller replacement, fire alarm upgrades, roofing projects and masonry repair, among other projects.
For basic renovations at the regional campuses, the capital appropriations bill allocated $214,604 to Lancaster, $208,117 to Zanesville, $186,640 to Chillicothe, $163,052 to Ironton, and $153,072 to Eastern.
Regional campuses also are slated to receive special project funding, which includes:
- $1.13 million for Elson Hall at Zanesville
- $500,000 for the Stephenson Center learning commons and $502,542 for parking and roadway improvements at Chillicothe
- $801,485 for renovations to Brasee Hall library and the gymnasium at Lancaster
- $609,112 for interior renovations to Shannon Hall at Eastern
- $325,000 for campus entry and grounds improvements at Southern, matched by $325,000 in community project funds toward a horse park. Funding was also granted to Southern campus toward land acquisition and renovation planning.
Ohio's capital appropriations budget provides for the acquisition or construction of major capital items, such as land, buildings, structures and equipment. Earlier this spring, the House declined to endorse Senate changes to the bill, resulting in conference committee deliberations. The committee reached a compromise on June 10, and Strickland vetoed 13 line items before signing the measure today. The bill will go into effect in 90 days.
Ohio University's allotment was $2.2 million shy of our funding in the last biennium -- reflecting a decline in the total funding for capital improvements at colleges and universities across the state.
Although the amount may be down from the last biennium, Ohio University Director of Government Relations Teri Geiger said the state is putting its resources in the right place.
"Clearly higher education is a priority," she said.
Ohio University makes requests for capital funding to the Ohio Board of Regents via the university's capital improvement plan. The next capital improvement plan will be submitted to the Ohio Board of Regents in fall 2009.
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