Kent State could get $18.5 million in state money to help update science facilities in at least three buildings, their first major improvements in almost a half-century.
The KSU award is among more than 150 capital improvement projects statewide that the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission endorsed this week.
“We’re grateful that the state supported the need,” said Gregg Floyd, senior vice president for finance and administration.
The commission, an appointed panel of university and college presidents, reviewed dozens of proposals from the state’s 37 tax-supported colleges and universities to come up with a plan to divvy up $404.4 million in capital improvement funds for the next biennium.
They chose to direct funding to projects that “are aimed at repairing and maintaining existing structures — essentially, strengthening Ohio’s past investments in its campuses,” according to the commission report.
Gov. John Kasich is expected to include their recommendations in the state budget he presents to the Legislature in a few weeks.
The recommendations ranged from a high of $37.3 million to renovate Pomerene Hall at Ohio State to a low of $35,000 for roof repairs at Columbus State Community College, with many projects for Northeast Ohio universities falling midway.
Kent State, for example, would get about $23.6 million for seven projects on its main and branch campuses.
That would include the $18.5 million award to renovate the science facilities in Williams, Cunningham and Smith halls, their first major improvements since they were built in the 1960s.
Floyd said the labs would be retooled to make them multidisciplinary. In other words, they could be used for several kinds of sciences.
“The days of using a lab exclusively for chemistry or biology are gone,” he said.
The state money would be combined with an as-yet-undetermined amount of proceeds from a $170 million bond issue. The full extent of the improvements have yet to be determined, he said.
Meanwhile, the University of Akron would get about $19.3 million for seven projects that include renovations at the law school and repairs to improve energy efficiency at the former Central-Hower High School.
Northeast Ohio Medical University, in Rootstown, would get $2 million for two projects, and Stark State College in Jackson Township would receive $3.3 million for four projects.
The commission was led by Roderick McDavis, president of Ohio University.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.