Campus Construction [News]

The whir of saws and buzz of machinery has become background music for the milling masses of students attending CU this fall, few of whom know what is actually being constructed.

Noel Cummings, Director for the Office of Capital Assets and Space Planning at the University, offered an explanation for the business this school year.

“A lot is going to be happening in the next couple of years,” Cummings said.

It seems the current construction is only the beginning. The ongoing construction consists of three projects: a new visual arts complex next to the University Memorial Center, a formal gateway entrance at the intersection of Broadway and Baseline, and renovations in Norlin Library to provide a new student study area.

The visual arts complex will be a replacement for the old Sibell Wolle building Cummings said.

“The visual arts complex was easily the worst building on campus and had the potential to be dangerous to work in. It was a very high priority project,” he said.

Excavation for the new visual arts complex began in Jan. 2008 and the building is scheduled to be finished in Dec. 2009. The grand total cost for this two year project is $63.5 million, $19.8 million of which are from the state of Colorado.

Cummings said the rest of the funds, about $43.7 million, is a combination of student fees and fundraising by the art department.

A few years ago students voted “proactively” to raise student fees to pay for some of the buildings on campus, including the new visual arts complex, Cummings said. This agreement was a bill created by the Student Union in 2004. Bill number 60LCB15 can be found on the UCSU website in the bill database.

The description of the bill, passed on Apr. 15, reads as follows: “The bill counteracts the Colorado General Assembly’s inability to fund higher education, primarily due to restrictions imposed by the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and Amendment 23. This bill represents the support of the UCSU to institute a capital construction fee to pay for critical campus infrastructure.”

The bill was sponsored and authored by Richard Murray, a 2004 Tri-Executive. Law School Co-Senator Brian Mason and 2nd Vice President Eugene Pearson also sponsored the bill.

Student fees appear as a few different lump sums on a student’s bill such as “UCSU Student Activity” and “Administrative” fees. The breakdown of these sums is available on the Bursar’s website.

The Capital Construction Fee is included in “Administrative” fees and totals $150 for students with 7 or more credit hours and $75 for students with 6 or less. The Bursar’s website defines the bill’s history and source as well.

According to the bill description from the Bursar web site, the fee was first tacked on to student fees in fall 2006. The fee is then implemented on a progressive basis increasing to a maximum of $200 per student per semester for the 2010 fiscal year.

This “progressive basis” on which the fee is increased was also explained by Cummings.

“The fees are scheduled to kick in when the buildings finish, so some of them already have,” he said. “I think kudos go out to the students because they found a revenue stream to fund high priority projects on campus.”

According to the Bursar’s website, funds from the Capital Construction Fee are restricted to five projects: the Law School, ATLAS, the Business School, IT infrastructure and Visual Arts. Neither the new gateway entrance at Broadway and Baseline nor the new student meeting place in Norlin Library that are currently under construction will be funded by the Capital Construction Fee.

The construction at Broadway and Baseline is meant to be a formal entrance to the school, announcing that one has arrived on the CU campus. This project will cost $5 million, the entirety of which will come from University funds.

“The University lacks any markers or recognition that people are entering campus and this is a way of recognizing that transition,” Cummings said.

There has also been a demand for a new student center that is open 24 hours a day for students to study and simply escape from their residence halls, Cummings said. This is the ongoing construction in Norlin Library, which will cost approximately $5.1 million. A portion of this will be from the current Student Computing Fee and the rest will be from gifts and donations made to the University.

“No such place has ever existed before,” Cummings said. “This will provide [students] with a meeting place where they can study 24/7, either individually or in groups.”

Published to CUIndependent.com on 9/15/08.

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