Southeast Missouri state regents OK more than $10 million in projects

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Greek students at Southeast Missouri State University will receive up to $2 million for dorm improvements, the Board of Regents decided Monday. Administrators are currently meeting with students to determine needs, which could include modernizing bathrooms and creating more private space. The upgrades are part of seven Residence Life bond projects totaling $10.23 million approved Monday.

Other projects include switching from key access to card access in dorms, building a parking lot for a new dorm being constructed at Henderson Avenue and Broadway, and completing elevator, fire sprinkler and window work. Costs for the projects are $1.1 million, $2 million and $4.2 million, respectively.

Projects will be funded with bond proceeds, to be paid off with Residence Life revenue.

"This is the first time in a long time we've come back to Greek group housing for something so major," said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president of administration and enrollment management.

A "Greek Village," which would have created townhouse-style housing for Greek students near the Show Me Center, was proposed over the summer but dropped in favor of the new dorm at Henderson and Broadway.

Holt said it has been eight to 10 years since Greek students have seen updates to their housing. Other major dorm work during that time includes switching some rooms at Towers into suites and renovating Rowdy's, the grill at Towers, he said. Towers Cafe will receive $930,000 for new furniture and equipment under the bond plan approved.

Administrators and consultants will hold forums with Greek students in March as part of a strategic planning process, and expect a clearer idea of how to allocate the $2 million to Greeks afterward. Specific projects will be brought back before the regents for approval before construction.

Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins said converting dorms to card access is part of a long-term security plan. Holt said the plan will reduce vulnerabilities because it is much more difficult to change locks than it is to "recard."

At the meeting regents also approved raising room and board rates by 2.67 percent next year. Rates will range from $5,430 for Dearmont to $7,498 for Vandiver. While board rates did not increase, room rates rose by 4 percent, for the combined overall increase of 2.67 percent.

In comparison, rates range from $6,360 to $11,950 at the University of Missouri and from $5,480 to $7,314 at Truman University in Kirksville, Mo. Last year, rates increased by 5 percent at Southeast. In 2006 there was a 3.1 percent increase.

Regents approved a plan by the St. Louis charter school Lift for Life, which Southeast oversees, to expand from grades six through eight to grades six through 12, adding one grade each year over the next four years.

"The first sixth-grade class graduated in 2007. Following up with students, administrators were concerned about students' success as they dispersed to St. Louis high schools," said provost Dr. Jane Stephens.

Dr. Sue Shepard, dean of the College of Education, said that as enrollment increases the school will be receiving additional state funds, and does not expect the additional costs to fall back on Southeast.

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