Southeast Missouri State University staff, offices move in advance of campus renovations

Monday, May 23, 2011

People are packing up and preparing to move out around parts of the Southeast Missouri State University campus.

It's not the annual end-of-spring-semester exodus of students heading home for summer. That's already in the books.

The big move involves staff and faculty members over the coming months, and it's all tied to the start of Southeast's massive campuswide renovation plan.

"People are packing up now," said Brian Robertson, associate director of design and construction for the university's facilities management department.

On Friday afternoon, it was a definitive spring cleaning at Academic Hall, where university employees were pushing unwanted items out into the hallway.

"They were saying, 'Take it if you want it, we're disposing of it,'" Robertson said.

The university's board of regents in late March approved a fiscal year 2012 schedule of capital improvement projects, a list topping $38 million. Much of the work -- about $27.83 million worth -- includes the estimated portion of bond funds targeted for Southeast's renovation and maintenance project, to be funded through nearly $60 million in borrowing.

"This is a good time to be in construction in the Cape area," board president Brad Bedell said at the March meeting.

While many of the construction plans are in the design and development phase, some projects have begun, and a major move is on the way. Staff in the more than 100-year-old Academic Hall -- from admissions and financial services to the registrar and the office of the president -- will be relocating in the coming weeks and months. Memorial and Dempster halls will house many of the displaced departments during the nearly $23 million renovation of Academic Hall. The building is expected to be vacant by the end of the year, with construction slated to begin after the first of the year.

Robertson said the president's office is expected to begin moving to Dempster next month. Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins has said his office will be out of Academic for at least two years.

The integrated technology department will permanently relocate to Memorial Hall, which is being renovated to accommodate the campus' technology needs.

"What that amounts to is we are really doing demolition work of existing partitions and services inside the building and building it out specifically for telecommunication programmers and their equipment," Robertson said, noting the IT department will be fully relocated to Memorial sometime in the fall semester.

Prep work on the nearly $18 million improvement and expansion of Magill Hall has begun, with cleanup and remediation of all hazardous materials within the science building -- including americium-241 and asbestos-containing materials, according to university documents. Robertson said construction on Magill, to include a three-story addition to the north of the hall, a computer lab and lecture classrooms, is scheduled to begin this fall.

"The plans are not quite ready to go, but we just wrapped up all of the building programming and design development," he said. "The construction drawings will follow in August, and we will bid the project late this summer."

Power comes next. The university is engaged in testing and investigating the campus' primary power and distribution, and the campuswide distribution of steam and chilled water.

Southeast's renovation plan includes converting its nearly 50-year-old coal-fired boiler system to natural gas power.

The addition of the natural gas-powered boilers will allow flexibility, efficiency and, ultimately, cost savings, administrators say. Robertson pegs the conversion project to be completed by the middle or the end of next winter.

While the summer and fall semester ahead promises plenty of dust and a few detours on campus, Robertson said he doesn't foresee any significant hurdles in the delivery of university services.

"It may be a period of adjustment, but I don't see anything particularly difficult at this time," he said.

mkittle@semissourian.com

388-3627

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