A $1 billion-plus 10-year “transformation” plan to overhaul the main Kent State University campus would include a host of new and renovated academic and other buildings and lots more green space, as well as bike trails and walkways.

The first phase of the campus-wide plan — with an estimated cost of $220.8 million — envisions extending what university officials call an “iconic front campus” along Main Street, with the addition of a new College of Business Administration Building and a parking deck.

“We’re going to call this plan and goal a transformed Kent State University,” KSU President Beverly Warren told trustees at a committee meeting Wednesday.

Trustees reviewed the final draft of the facilities master plan — in the works for more than a year — at the Wednesday meeting. Trustees, who have been involved with developing the plan, are expected to vote on the plan at their March 7 meeting.

Kent State’s last master plan was approved in 1996.

The new proposal calls for work on phase one projects to begin as early as next year. Information on construction timelines for individual projects was not available.

The plan is divided into three phases, with the last one wrapping up in 2027.

Possible financing options include university funds, debt, state money and philanthropy.

The plan envisions more than half of the first phase’s cost being paid via “public-private partnership and philanthropy.”

“The university’s finances remain strong and we are well positioned to move forward with this dynamic plan to transform [the campus] for future generations,” university spokesman Eric Mansfield said in an email.

He noted that each part of each phase would go before the board of trustees for approval.

Flexible plan

The first phase includes a facility housing interdisciplinary studios for students; an addition and renovations to Rockwell Hall, which houses the Fashion School; renovations to White Hall, which houses the College of Education, Health and Human Services; and an addition to the Aeronautics and Technology Building.

Terrace Hall, which houses the campus’s ROTC program, would be torn down to make way for a parking deck off Main Street.

The master plan is not cast in stone, Warren said.

“I think we can be pretty solid in what we foresee” in the first three-year phase, she said.

“Beyond that, I think it behooves us to be flexible, to be nimble,” she said, “to be responsive to some of the unknown challenges and known challenges.”

Warren said the plan also calls for “a signature gateway” off Main as wells as changes to enhance campus life for students and strengthen the connection to the city of Kent.

Further ahead

The second phase (2021 to 2023) calls for expansion of research labs at various sites, renovations to the Student Center, Bowman Hall (College of Arts & Sciences), an addition and renovations to Henderson Hall (College of Nursing) and a “connector” between the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center and the Student Center that would house assembly space. Estimated cost of this phase is $400 million.

The third phase (2024 to 2027) would include renovation of the University Library Tower and renovation of Nixson Hall. Estimated cost of this phase is $106 million.

Independent projects that would not be pegged to any particular phase include building an indoor recreation facility and outdoor recreation complex as well as an addition to the existing Student Recreation and Wellness Center, renovations to Dix Stadium and a women’s softball complex. An “Intergenerational Village” — housing for students, faculty members and the public — could be among these projects.

Estimated cost of these independently phased projects is nearly $400 million.

The plan was developed by architecture, engineering and planning firm SmithGroupJJR, which has offices in Michigan, with input from members of the Kent State community.

For more information on the plan go to https://atransformedksu.org

Tuition plans

At their regular board meeting Wednesday, trustees approved a tuition guarantee plan that would allow the university to increase tuition for in-state freshmen in fall 2018 and then freeze it for those students for four years.

Trustees will set the tuition rate at their March meeting. Under state law governing such guarantees, KSU cannot increase its current tuition and fees of $10,012 more than 6 percent.

KSU also plans to offer a guarantee that would freeze room and board rates for incoming freshmen.

Trustees at the University of Akron and Cleveland State University have taken similar actions.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook at www.facebook.com.