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APSU buildings get a 21st-century makeover

April 15, 2003

Student debt service fees and capital outlay funding are helping to turn Austin Peays older buildings from aged to aesthetic and from floundering to functional.

The student population boom of the 1960s and the rush to accommodate that growing population on campus left Austin Peay with a legacy of ugly, wasteful and outdated buildings, many of which do not work with todays technology needs.
April 15, 2003

Student debt service fees and capital outlay funding are helping to turn Austin Peay's older buildings from aged to aesthetic and from floundering to functional.

The student population boom of the 1960s and the rush to accommodate that growing population on campus left Austin Peay with a legacy of ugly, wasteful and outdated buildings, many of which do not work with today's technology needs.

With the need for more space and the ability to accommodate technological advances, several buildings have been targeted for renovations on the APSU campus, not the least of which are the Catherine Evans Harvill Cafeteria and the McCord and Trahern buildings.

“Since the physical sciences vacated McCord, there's been nothing there,” said Mitch Robinson, vice president for finance and administration.

Robinson hopes to change that through funding provided by capital outlay funds.

According to Robinson, a request for funding is submitted to the Tennessee Board of Regents who in turn submits its own list to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. THEC then merges and prioritizes all submissions from TBR and the University of Tennessee and comes up with its own list of needed renovations, which is voted on by the state legislature.

McCord has been a priority for funding for several years by THEC, according to Robinson.

Catherine Evans Harvill Cafeteria, named after the wife of the former college president Halbert Harvill, has remained vacant and in disarray since the opening of the Morgan University Center last spring. The 1957 dining facility was designed to accommodate a student body of 1,500. Soon, says Robinson, it will be the site of a new bookstore and an adjoining hamburger grill.

The former cafeteria will be getting some assistance money for the hamburger grill from Aramark, the APSU food services contractor. Follett College Stores Inc., the contracted operator of the bookstore, is also providing funds toward the renovation of the cafeteria. Completion of the facility is expected by this coming fall.

In the meantime, APSU students have their own opinions about what renovations should be taking top priority on campus.

“They need to redo Killebrew,” said freshman Clarissa Charity who lives in the 1969 dorm. Charity says her furniture is falling apart, the toilets keep stopping up and the ventilation system causes one side of the room to be hot while the other side is freezing.

The ventilation system in the Red Barn also has caused some complaints by sophomore Carlos Chavez and freshman Amy Epps who say the 1950s recreation facility needs to be gutted and redone.

“We should be looking toward the future,” said Chavez. “The University is only going to get bigger. We should be buying up property around the campus and constructing some new buildings. Even if we buy up some buildings downtown, we're still in the general area.”

Freshmen Alicia Rayburn and Kathy Walker agree that new buildings would be a happy sight in comparison to those such as Marks, which houses the geography, geology and agriculture departments.

“It looks like a warehouse,” said Rayburn. “I think it was at one point.”

While budget cuts have put some renovation plans on hold, Robinson believes money will be available to fund several renovation projects.

“The increase in student debt service fees, which was voted on by the students back in the mid-90s, was passed with several different renovation projects in mind,” said Robinson.

In addition to building the new UC that not only reflects the style of the campus but also accommodates food services, mail, offices and classrooms, student debt service fees also will be used in future renovation projects for housing and recreation facilities.

“Most renovations are interior and not exterior right now,” said Robinson, and some are more pressing than others.

Harvill Hall, for instance, sustained significant water damage this year due to a major water leak. APSU had to pay an initial $25,000 to clean it up while insurance proceeds paid for the necessary renovations such as new sheet rock.

Funding for maintenance instead of outright renovations is easier to come by, and Robinson's attitude seems to be ‘we'll take what we can get,' but that doesn't mean the University is not seeking renovation funding.

“McCord is at the top of the list for capital outlay funding,” said Robinson. “It's a significant gesture considering APSU has not received capital outlay funding for the past three years.”