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K-State Today

January 30, 2013

Monthly letter to campus from President Schulz about building projects and academic infrastructure

Submitted by Kirk Schulz

Kirk Schulz

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Happy New Year! It is great to see all of the students back on campus for the spring semester. While I enjoy the slower pace in Manhattan during university breaks, university towns are much more fun and vibrant when classes are in session and the students are back.

This is also the time of year we kick off our K-State Proud campaign. The student-led, campuswide K-State Proud campaign has raised more than $550,000 in the past six years to assist students who have exhausted all forms of financial assistance and are still in need. More than 300 students have benefited. I encourage you to share information about K-State Proud with your classes or student organizations you advise. This year's campaign week is Feb. 18-25, with the Proud in Bramlage game on Feb. 25.

Along with more than 40,000 K-State alumni and friends, I had the opportunity to travel to Phoenix and support our football team as they played the University of Oregon in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. As part of the bowl festivities, we had a pep rally the day before the game in the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium that was attended by approximately 25,000 purple-clad K-State football fans. These pep rallies are the largest gathering of K-Staters outside of home football games and represent an excellent opportunity to communicate new university initiatives to a significant number of alumni and friends through the use of videos.

On the athletic facilities side, if you have driven on Kimball Avenue you've noticed that much of our athletic complex is a construction zone. John Currie and his staff have done a masterful job developing a vision for our future athletic facilities, and as a result of private fundraising success have embarked on more than $100 million in upgrades to our athletic complex. The West Stadium expansion project is designed as a multipurpose facility for meetings and banquets and will enhance and contribute to our overall campus appearance and provide needed year-round meeting places. These new buildings showcase the types of facilities that we are striving for as laid out in the K-State 2025 visionary plan, and have helped us make a convincing case with our donor base that we need the same quality facilities to enhance our academic parts on campus.

Thus, as we prepared the video for the pep rally, we decided to focus on the next steps in continuing to build and improve our campus academic infrastructure as outlined in Theme 6 of K-State 2025. If you haven't seen the 90-second video, "Building the Future K-State," I urge you to watch it. This short video has generated a significant amount of interest — with more than 7,800 views in the past month on YouTube. In short, many of our alumni, friends, elected officials and supporters are excited to see us move toward improvement of our academic teaching and research space — and certainly want to know more.

During the development of Theme 6 in K-State 2025 and the continued development of our campus master plan, it is clear that we have many physical infrastructure needs to move us toward our goal of being recognized as a Top 50 public research university. In the last several years, we have had several notable projects that enhance our academic and research infrastructure including the expansion of Justin Hall and the ongoing construction of the O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center.

As we identify and prioritize our new academic building projects, how do we find the financial resources needed to build and renovate the K-State of the future? Just a couple of decades ago, we would determine the campuswide needs for a particular building, gain support for the project from the Regents, and then receive funding from the state of Kansas to build and maintain a new academic building. I do not believe that this is a realistic model going forward. To build the campus of the future, we will need to rely much more heavily on private philanthropy to assist us in building and renovating our future campus; indeed, I don't believe we will do another building project on campus during my tenure as president that does not have a significant private component as part of the funding model. Thus, as we examine some of the building projects that will be part of our first wave of academic infrastructure enhancement, the ability to raise private funds for the project is of critical importance. So, what are some of the building and renovation projects that are under way currently?

New College of Business Administration Building. The estimated cost for this new building is $50 million, of which $35 million will be raised in private funds and $15 million will come from university resources. To date, we have raised over $13.2 million in gifts and pledges toward the construction of the new building. We expect this building to be completed in time for the fall 2016 semester.

Phase IV of Engineering Complex. The estimated cost of the new wing on the engineering complex is $40 million, of which $20-30 million is expected to be raised from private funds. The new facilities will house the department of computer and information sciences, the department of electrical and computer engineering, and will contain student project spaces for our nationally-competitive design teams. We expect to begin construction of this building during the fall of 2013. 

Renovation of Seaton Complex for the College of Architecture, Planning and Design. In Gov. Brownback's budget proposal, $1 million was provided in FY2014 with additional monies projected in FY2015 for planning of the renovation project, the first major renovation of one of our historic buildings in several decades. There is an expectation that each $1 of state money provided for renovation costs will be matched by $1 generated through a combination of privately-raised funds, technology fees, increased research funding and tuition generated through enrollment growth. These monies will be aimed at increasing endowed faculty positions, student scholarships, and other enhancement funds. We expect construction of this building to be done in phases and to start no later than Jan. 1, 2015. 

Renovation of East and West Memorial Stadium. The construction of a new Purple Masque Theatre for the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance should start during the spring 2013 semester on West Memorial Stadium at a cost of approximately $6 million, to be paid out of university funds. The Campus Welcome Center will be constructed underneath East Memorial Stadium at a cost of $20 million, with approximately $4.6 million already raised. We expect the East Memorial Stadium renovation project to start no later than Jan. 1, 2015. 

These four projects constitute the majority of the major building projects that will start over the next two to three years, and when completed would represent an investment of nearly $200 million in new or renovated academic infrastructure. This aggressive timeline becomes possible because of the generosity of our donors, sound strategy for the projects and the continued support of our legislators. There are several additional projects that are in various stages of approval and or consideration including a new residence hall, a possible renovation and expansion of the K-State Student Union, and several other college-level projects.

While these projects are exciting and represent an important step forward, there are still many areas of campus that are not represented on the above list. We need to upgrade all aspects of our academic infrastructure, and need to continually examine creative ways to fund upgrades, additions and renovations for the entire academic community. As we work with our deans, development staff, and elected officials over the next several years, my commitment remains the same — to help the entire campus have academic infrastructure that is in line with our aspirations as a Top 50 public research university.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions as we continue to find ways to make K-State a better place to work and learn.

Onward and Upward!