Murray State Board of Regents approves campus renovations, enrollment increase reported
On Friday, the Murray State University Board of Regents approved millions of dollars for campus modernization, reported an increase in early registrations for summer and fall semesters, and recognized various faculty at its first in-person quarterly meeting. since February 2020.
A $ 12.3 million bond project, which the board approved for recommendation to Murray State President Bob Jackson, sparked much of the conversation at the meeting. The project would include major updates to the Curris Center, Lovett Auditorium, Wrather Hall, Carr Hall, Racer Arena and the Waterfield Library.
“We have some catching up to do,” Jackson said of campus facilities.
Murray State Facilities Management Director Jason Youngblood said that to “get people excited when they walk in the door,” part of this project would be renovating the floors, decorating, painting and signage for the Curris Center.
Youngblood said some of these items inside the Curris Center had not changed since the 1980s. University management spoke with several groups of students, including Racer Esports, to determine the necessary and possible improvements, renovations to last 12 to 18 months.
Renovations to the Lovett Auditorium began in fall 2020 and will continue as part of this plan, receiving new seating, windows and exterior doors for the building, as well as heating, ventilation and cooling work for the balcony of the auditorium. The new seats on offer are “1920s style,” Jackson said, with the end caps from the original Lovett Auditorium seats. It would be funded by a $ 500,000 donation from the Murray State University Foundation Board of Trustees.
In response to this donation, the Board of Regents also voted to approve the appointment of the “Board of Trustees” inside the Lovett Auditorium. The appointment would be commemorated by a plaque of recognition bearing the names of the trustees at the entrance or inside the room.
“Perhaps the most iconic building on the Murray State University campus is the Lovett Auditorium,” said Murray State Executive Director of Development Tina Bernot. “Not a day goes by without activity, from lectures to concerts to public events to classes.”
The draft bond also says Wrather Hall would receive new carpet, curtains, electrical upgrades and upholstery, but unlike the Lovett Auditorium, the seats would not be replaced.
Youngblood mentioned during his presentation at the meeting the need to get such buildings, including Lovett Auditorium, Carr Hall and Racer Arena, off the steam central heating system and on individual gas boilers. He said steam tunnels can create unsafe working conditions for those who maintain steam lines.
“This steam system is 60 years old,” Youngblood said. “The steam lines are getting to a point where they are badly damaged. “
Youngblood said the end goal is a more efficient and easier to maintain heating and cooling system. For example, he said, if Racer Arena is properly heated and cooled, it can be used for a wider range of campus events beyond track and field. The Racer Arena HVAC system would be designed to accommodate 2,000 people, although the maximum capacity of the arena is much larger.
Many of these campus updates are being prepared for Murray State’s centennial celebration next year.
Increase in registrations
Various members of the university administration also shared recent registration data at the meeting. 71% of the university’s budget was spent on enrollment during this fiscal year. Preliminary enrollment for the summer 2021 semester is up 16% from summer 2019, and preliminary enrollment for the fall 2021 semester is up 4% from fall 2019.
“[Admissions staff] have worked extremely hard over the past two years and especially this year with very difficult times with the pandemic, ”said Don Robertson, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management. “As we say in the office, they went out of their way every day to recruit every possible student to come to Murray State University.”
Murray State Provost Tim Todd also announced the faculty members who have won the Board of Regents’ Excellence in Teaching Awards: Patty Parish at Bauernfeind College of Business; Justin Grogran of the College of Education and Social Services; Jie Wu at the College of Humanities and Fine Arts; Diane Nititham in the Department of Humanities and Fine Arts; Laura Sullivan Beckers, Kevin Revell and Donald Adongo at the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology; and David Ferguson of the Hutson School of Agriculture.
“Of all the awards that professors are lucky enough to receive and be awarded, this one is really, really important,” said Todd. “Our faculty does a great job in the service components and certainly in the research components, but we have to do a great job in teaching. “
Todd also named Professor Emeritus recipients: Barbara Cobb, Scott Ericson, David Ferguson, Seid Hassan, Hamid Kobraei, Dale Ray Phillips, Allen White, Jay Zirbel and Steven Cobb.
Murray State athletic director Kevin Saal also highlighted the academic achievements of the athletics department, with students achieving a department-wide cumulative GPA of 3.18 in the spring semester of 2021. Saal said that this was the 34th consecutive semester the athletics department has achieved a department-wide GPA of 3.0 or higher.
“I’m just incredibly proud of our department,” Saal said.