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SEMO regents to consider additional locations for River Campus expansion

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Come October, Southeast Missouri State University officials will look at several scenarios when they consider future expansion of the university's visual and performing arts campus.

An architectural firm, the Lawrence Group, is developing multiple plans for the addition of a 150-bed residence hall and academic space near the River Campus, which it will present to the university's board of regents at an October meeting. Original plans for expanding the River Campus called for a possible hotel/residence hall combination on university foundation-owned acreage along the Fountain Street extension, but that idea was dropped by university officials in the spring at the same time they announced planning for a residence hall, classrooms and studio space would continue moving forward.

Now the university is looking at an additional location as an option for expansion based on advice from the firm -- a northeast corner of the River Campus property that contains the oldest handball court west of the Mississippi River. University officials say the handball court, built circa 1843, is not structurally sound.

Kathy Mangels, the university's vice president of finance and administration, said a structural engineer is evaluating the condition of the court, which has a tall brick wall.

University officials say the plan to locate a new residence hall and classrooms in that area could require the court's removal, although a portion of it could be incorporated into the design of the new space.

University president Dr. Ken Dobbins said if preservation of the court were included in plans for that location, he has concerns about the cost, but that the university will still consult with local historic preservation specialists before making any final decisions.

Dr. Steven Hoffman, the university's historic preservation program coordinator and a professor of history, said the court may be included as a contributing resource for the Seminary Building of Old St. Vincent's College's designation on the National Register of Historic Places. The Seminary Building is now a part of the current River Campus' total layout. If the court is considered a contributing resource, the university may have to take part in a Section 106 review. Section 106 of the Historic Preservation acts requires some government agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. A review was required when the university built the River Campus, Hoffman said.

Mangels said the option of using several locations for expansion remains open.

The university is looking at a two-part plan for the development, which would include a master plan for construction and use of the space and the phasing in of academic programs currently held on the main campus.

"With growing enrollment, we haven't been able to take everything over there that we wanted to," Mangels said.

A tentative completion date for a new development would be fall 2014. Architects said the development's physical form has not yet taken shape but its look would likely be more reminiscent of a traditional college campus than the modernity of the current River Campus buildings.

An additional project to be included in the renovations of Academic Hall also received approval from the board Monday during a specially called meeting.

The university plans to add an open-ceiling mezzanine with a conference room, small kitchenette and restroom to a level of the building between the third floor and the dome that will contain a glass ceiling and a spiral staircase leading to a walkway around the dome's interior.

Mangels said the cost of the project is around $1 million and will be funded with leftover bond money that results from the bids for the renovations coming in under budget. The university decided to add the project to plans now because the building's interior and exterior are already undergoing major renovations.



Pertinent address:

One University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, MO

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Handball court built in 1843! Wow! That's worth keeping in tact and restoring, IMHO!

-- Posted by lynwood on Mon, Aug 6, 2012, at 10:20 PM

Let's build some more buildings and pay for them on the backs of students. Just raise cost of tuition. Another fountain would be cool.

-- Posted by wolfwoman on Tue, Aug 7, 2012, at 7:27 AM

The handball court must be retored before any further damage occurs to the structure. Of course it must stay as it is an iconic feature of the old seminary property. Reminds me of the song with the lyrics "paved paradise put up a parking lot"

-- Posted by stinker on Tue, Aug 7, 2012, at 7:42 AM

The handball court should have been stabilized years ago. I hate people who allow for demolition by neglect. Stabilize it and utilize it as outdoor classroom space. Much better than another parking lot or fountain.

-- Posted by CeilingCatKnowsBest on Tue, Aug 7, 2012, at 10:52 AM

A one million dollar room! How does that improve students' educations?

-- Posted by scoots on Wed, Aug 8, 2012, at 9:52 PM

The university has done a great job in preserving the past history of the old Chapel stained glass.As a graduate of the old seminary high school I played on the courts. Dr. Hoffman may want to check on the legend that Federal gunboats fired on the courts from the river thinking it was a fortification during the War of Northern Aggression!

-- Posted by blueflash on Fri, Aug 10, 2012, at 11:08 AM

Southeast Missouri State University recently announced that everyone--faculty, staff, teaching assistants--will receive a 2% raise starting this fall. Apparently the University doesn't understand what "everyone" means because its part-time faculty has been excluded from this. Some 40 such instructors have only received a .03% raise ($3.25 per week more) in the last ten years (inflation has risen 127% during this time).

For an average class of 30 students, the University makes almost $20,000 but can only pay its part-time faculty 1% of that revenue (full-time faculty take 60-100% of that income, which is ironic when you consider that "part-time" teaches over 60% of what full-time does: PT, 5 classes/yr; FT, 8 classes/yr). By ratio, if part-time faculty's jobs require 60%(5/8) of the time of a full-time position, that would obligate them to 24 hours per week. Given their pay scale, this puts their hourly wage at a little over minimum at $8.02. Bear in mind that to teach part-time, one must have at least a Master's degree (and benefits are not offered). The sad part is that in some departments, the part-time faculty bears a (large) majority of the burden when it comes to freshman course offerings. In the spring semester, the pay is so low (part-timers are only allowed two classes in the spring) that these instructors qualify for food stamps.

To say that the simple solution is for the part-timers to go elsewhere overlooks the fact that, due to contractual obligations that run at four-month stretches, it is difficult to find another job with such brief windows in between semesters. Once lured in, part-timers are typically stuck between a poverty-stricken rock and a financial hard place.

And you wonder what happened to the quality of education.

-- Posted by Bob2012 on Tue, Aug 14, 2012, at 2:18 PM

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