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Trustees Approve Funds for University Center Renovation Project

Rankin Student Center-Ferris State UniversityGRAND RAPIDS – The Ferris State University Board of Trustees granted approval to proceed with funding to develop a new University Center during its regular meeting on Friday, Nov. 2 at the Federal Building in Grand Rapids.

Board members voted to allocate funding in the range of $30 million to $35 million toward the final design, to solicit bids and to negotiate and enter into contracts required to renovate the facility that will replace the Rankin Student Center on the Big Rapids campus. The full project also includes demolition of nearby Carlisle and Masselink halls to provide additional parking for the new center. Funds also will be used for required site work, including reimbursable costs, university indirect costs, equipment, fixtures and furnishings.

The University Center is a component of Ferris’ campus master plan. During the last three to four years, the university has worked to build a financial reserve to help fund this project. The balance of funding for the facility will be provided through a bond issue with the debt service to be paid by the university’s general fund. Ferris is committed to the completion of the project without a new fee or tuition increase for students. There will be opportunities for private and community financial support to enrich the student experience.

The UC will provide additional space for student organizations to meet and will offer a mix of food, retail and entertainment options to meet the needs of residential and commuter students, and the rest of the university community.

The university completed a visioning stage for the planning process when it received a final report from consultants Brailsford and Dunlavey. At the March 23 board meeting, authorization was granted for the procurement of professional services for preconstruction planning. Neumann Smith teamed with design partner KSS architects and food services consultants Porter Khouw as the design team for the project. Christman Company was selected to provide construction management services. These professional services firms have collaborated with the University Center planning committee to develop a comprehensive program statement and project budget.

The demolition of Carlisle and Masselink halls is expected to begin in either the spring or summer of 2013, while the renovation project for the UC is expected to begin in May 2013 and be completed by Aug. 1, 2014.

As part of the project, the university intends to lease real estate just south of campus in the Big Value Center near the Save-A-Lot grocery store on Northland Drive to serve as a temporary home for the campus bookstore for 17 to 18 months during the renovation. Some other Rankin Center offices will be relocated temporarily to Helen Ferris Hall, and the Center Ice dining facility will be reopened for one year to fill the void left by the closing of Westview during the renovation.

In other action, trustees approved: 

  • the FY 2013 general fund operating budget as submitted and endorsed by the BOT Finance Committee in July. This summer, the budget was projected based on information available at the time. Since the BOT action in July, the state appropriations amounts have been finalized. The only change to the July-approved state appropriations is the addition of one-time tuition-restraint funding. Ferris’ 2.59-percent increase, the second lowest among the state’s public universities, resulted in the university receiving 14 percent of the $9 million tuition-restraint appropriation, or $1,269,300. The university also received $1,657,100 in performance funding monies, resulting in a total of $2,926,400 in one-time funding. Of that one-time funding, $2.6 million is being used for student scholarships. The approved base appropriation to Ferris remains at the FY 12 level of $41.3 million;

  • the FY14 room and board rates that reflect the university’s 1.9-percent increase from FY13 rates. The Ferris room and board rate is $990 per month, based on pricing for the most popular plan choice for Ferris students;

  • authorization for Administration and Finance Vice President Jerry Scoby, or his designee, to proceed with the retention of necessary professional services to assist in the development of a formal program statement, preliminary plans and cost estimates to assist in securing funding and approval through the state of Michigan’s capital outlay process for a new Human Services Building project to serve as home to the College of Education and Human Services. The college has been housed in Bishop Hall, a former campus residence hall built in the 1960s;

  • The Ferris Foundation’s nomination for new members of its board of directors, Stephanie Leonardos, of Ada, president and CEO of Amerikam, Inc.; Michael R. Bigford, of Big Rapids, president and CEO of Utility Supply and Construction Company; and Karl Linebaugh, of Big Rapids, North Region President for Chemical Bank;

  • an agreement between the university and Southwestern Michigan College to provide admissions, promotional and recruiting services for a period of three years on the SMC campus in Dowagiac; and

  • two charter school board appointments, new sites for Kentwood-based Lighthouse Academy and conditional authorization for Battle Creek Montessori Academy.

The next full meeting of the Ferris State University Board of Trustees is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, 2013 in Big Rapids.