When Lincoln University students return in the fall, they'll be getting new heating systems in many of the school's buildings - and some students will be able to enroll in a new master's degree program in science.
Curators approved a $1,348,780 contract with Mechanical Services Inc. of Springfield, the low bidder, for the installation of several new steam-generating boilers.
Curtis Creagh, LU's Administration vice president, noted the "steam plant decentralization project" has been studied for several years.
"We have several miles of steam tunnel that have been deteriorating for some time, that feed and operate the boilers on our campus," he explained. "So, we decided - rather than trying to bring those tunnels back up to where they should be, which would be a lot costlier for us - we would take another approach and decentralize the whole system."
New, high-efficiency gas boilers will be installed in 15 buildings "currently served by the less energy-efficient steam system and power plant boilers," Creagh said. "The residence halls will both have a primary and a secondary boiler, to provide redundancy, so our students will be comfortable."
All the new boilers will be connected through a "new control system that will track and provide the most cost-effective gas utilization," he added.
The project also includes upgrading campus lighting with the help of a $1.8 million loan from the state Natural Resources department.
As with other DNR loans, the cost-savings from the new lights will be used to pay off the loan, which has a 2 percent interest rate.
The work is to be finished by Oct. 15.
The Master of Science degree in natural sciences is intended to help meet "a continued need nationwide for students with baccalaureate and graduate degrees in STEM disciplines," a written memo to curators explained.
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math that has been used with growing frequency in recent years, among educators, business leaders and politicians.
In preparing the proposal, Ann Harris, Lincoln's Academic Affairs interim vice president, said LU officials "have even gone so far as to interview potential employers for graduates of a program like this, and they're fairly satisfied they will be able to sustain it with proper enrollments."
With the curators' OK, the proposal will be sent to the state Higher Education department for its approval.
Harris said LU wants to begin offering the degree in the fall.
The board OK'd three new names for facilities:
• "James N. Freeman Farm" for the new research farm on Tanner Bridge Road, that replaces the former Freeman Farm in the Missouri River bottoms in Callaway County, which was sold in April 2011.
• "Elizabeth Briscoe Wilson Technology Center" for the Page Library's Media Center. Wilson retired as head librarian in 2010.
• "Lionel H. Newsam Cafe" for the Page Library cafe.
Curators also elected their new officers for the coming year: Herbert Hardwick, Kansas City, will be the new president; Greg Gaffke, Jefferson City, is vice president; Don Cook, St. Louis, is secretary; and Winston Rutledge, Jefferson City, is treasurer.