The just-approved state budget calls for a one and a half percent cut in operating funds for universities, but does include a number of capital projects.
Lawmakers appropriated 66 million dollars for completion of phase two of Eastern Kentucky University's science building. EKU President Michael Benson says work could begin in three months, "We literally could break ground on July 1, which we hope to do."
Benson says construction documents will be done soon. Then the university will put the project out for bids and hire a contractor. "We may even be able to get more building, some of those add alternates at the end that you really want," said Benson. He says the project will take almost two years to complete.
Significant improvements are also ahead for EKU's athletic facilities. The General Assembly has authorized the school to borrow $15 million that will be matched with private money for expanding and renovating sports facilities.
President Benson says the improvements could affect a lot of different sports, "But, it's everything from the football stadium to Alumni Coliseum to lights that we've done already for baseball and softball to a new tennis court across the street from our current indoor facility." "We're looking at the possibility of a new indoor facility for track and field and indoor practice facility for football," added Benson.
The EKU president says it's important to be prepared for what he terms the "shifting tectonic movements in college athletics." He says the changing landscape of conference affiliation nationally is also worth noting, "It's a matter really of preparing yourself if the invitation is extended to be ready. But, for now, we're happy in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Commissioner knows that, the other presidents know that, but you never know what's gonna happen with college athletics in the year 2014."
A campus wide forum on athletics at E-K-U is scheduled Thursday at 3:30 in Brock Auditorium.