SEMO to build "convocation center" at River Campus

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Southeast Missouri State University will spend an estimated $1.6 million to build a "convocation center" addition to the River Campus arts school that's under construction.

The board of regents approved the expansion at its meeting Wednesday in St. Louis.

The convocation center will replace a proposed welcome center at the Cape Girardeau site. School officials dropped the idea of building a state-affiliated welcome center after failing to land a construction grant from the state.

The addition will be constructed on the west side of the lobby that provides an entrance to the performance hall.

School officials said the cost includes $600,000 for added rest rooms to comply with building codes.

It also will have a large meeting room that could be used for receptions and the display of student exhibits. The meeting area could be subdivided into smaller rooms as needed, school officials said.

The regents also promised in a resolution Wednesday that they won't use the River Campus funding scheme on any future construction project.

The regents passed a resolution stating that the board won't authorize the issuance of bonds if repayment is contingent upon state funding that hasn't been granted unless the legislature has passed a measure in support of the project.

The board's action fulfilled a promise that school officials made to Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton four months ago to settle a dispute over state funding for the River Campus art school.

Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins said the resolution is similar to state Sen. Jason Crowell's legislation that lawmakers approved this spring and Gov. Matt Blunt signed earlier this month. The new law takes effect on Aug. 28.

The law prohibits the Missouri Development Finance Board and other state boards from issuing bonds for projects when needed state funding hasn't been approved by lawmakers.

The board also approved the fiscal 2007 operating budget totaling more than $123 million. It projects expenses of $97.4 million for general operations and another $26.5 million for auxiliary services in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Auxiliary services include more than a dozen departments and programs that are designed to pay for themselves. They include student housing, textbook services, the campus bookstore, Show Me Center and the University Center.

Regents also approved a new installment plan that provides students with additional payment options for tuition and other campus fees.

335-6611, extension 123

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