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Higher ed report: LU, State Tech in need of updates

Higher ed report: LU, State Tech in need of updates

November 29th, 2018 by Bob Watson in News

Entrance to the campus of State Technical College of Missouri in Linn.

Two area higher education campuses are in need of substantial capital improvements due to deferred maintenance of their buildings over the years, according to a 195-page state report issued earlier this month.

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The Higher Education Department's 2018 Facility Review said deferred maintenance at the state's four-year public universities, State Technical College and the two-year community colleges total a little more than $1.498 billion.

The report includes details of the conditions and needs on most of those campuses.

Lincoln University has $70 million in deferred maintenance and $136 million in new capital requests, the state's Higher Education Facility Review shows.

And Linn-based State Technical College of Missouri has more than $2.2 million in deferred maintenance and $18 million in new capital requests.

 

Lincoln University

The report noted Lincoln's only recent capital improvements came from the state's 2016 Board of Public Buildings bond funding, which allowed the school to address "many deferred maintenance issues."

Still, the report said, "The majority of Lincoln's buildings are aging. Many were built during the 1920s and 1930s, or between the late 1950s and early 1970s.

"The university has struggled to maintain these buildings, and most are evidence of the fact that the university has been unable to allocate sufficient funds for maintenance and repair on a consistent basis.

"In addition, many of the university's buildings are not ideally suited for their current use."

Lincoln "appears to use every available square foot of space on its campus," the Higher Education Facility Report said. "Unfortunately, this means that many programs are housed in buildings not well-suited for their current use and are in need of significant renovation or repair. Lincoln lacks adequate space for some critical programs and general education courses, in terms of quality and quantity of space.

"Founders Hall, the building that houses most of the university's science classrooms and labs, and Elliff Hall, which houses the university's nursing program, do not have enough classrooms to accommodate student demand."

The Higher Education Department asks all schools to provide budget-writers with their top three items for state funding, if lawmakers approve a major capital improvements bill.

And a new, almost $59.6 million Science Building is second on the LU Curators' list, to "improve the quality of Lincoln's science instruction space, enable more students to participate in ongoing research projects, and allow the university to use classrooms and personnel more efficiently."

The report added: "Because all undergraduate, degree-seeking students at Lincoln are required to take general education science classes and participate in one lab, the new building will impact most of the students on campus."

First on LU's list is nearly $51 million in "Campuswide Renovations" that would include upgrades to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities law.

"The university has several buildings that are in need of major repairs/renovations as they have had no major upgrades since their original construction," the report said.

And Lincoln's third capital improvements priority is a $25.455 million general "Academic Building."

"The number of rooms available for instruction has declined over the years as classroom space has been converted to computer labs, offices, and other non-instructional space that is essential to providing a modern, accessible, and high-quality learning environment," the Higher Education report said.

"Because all students are required to take general education courses, this project will impact almost every student on campus."

 

State Technical College of Missouri

While Lincoln has been operating since 1866 and some of its current buildings have been in-use since the 1930s, State Technical College only began operating in 1962, as part of the Osage County R-2 School District in Linn.

The first building on its current campus, on U.S. 50 east of Linn and across the highway from the Osage County Fairgrounds, went up in 1986 — almost a decade before the school became state-owned.

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Still, State Tech President Shawn Strong said Wednesday: "When you don't renovate or upgrade a home in 30 years, it begins to show its wear; commercial buildings are no different. Just like a homeowner, when you don't have a budget for upgrades, you may let things go a little longer than you would like.

"At State Tech, we are able to keep our costs low using students in technical programs to work on grounds, electrical systems, air conditioning, computing systems and motor pool. Even with our lower cost of maintenance, our deferred maintenance is catching up to us."

The Higher Education Department report noted: "Currently, the campus has over $3 million in deferred maintenance needs, $2.2 million of which is in education and general building needs.

"The campus has grown significantly since the first building was constructed in 1986, and as such the focus has been on maintaining and accommodating this growth to meet Missouri's workforce needs. The current budget does not allow for annual capital investment, which will result in these costs increasing in size and severity over time."

Although improving its deferred maintenance is a high priority, the Board of Regents has said the first item on the school's capital improvements list is a $1.9 million "Heavy Equipment Operations Upgrade."

"The dilapidated portable classrooms/job trailers located between the Heavy Equipment Operations and MultiPurpose buildings will be replaced with a permanent structure in the same location," the report said. "Five classrooms will be added, two designed for 75 students and three designed for 30 students."

Regents also want a $14 million Engineering Technology Center and a $2.5 million sporting complex, that would feature a 250-yard rifle range, 10 50-yard pistol ranges, four skeet/trap courses for shotguns, and a 3-D archery range for bows and arrows.

"This capital priority is key to State Tech's ability to be responsive to the demands of students in the Midwest, and competitive as a force for regional workforce development."

Although the complex is included in State Tech's list for possible funding, the report said State Tech "anticipates private funding being a major contributor to this project."

Strong said he's pleased with how the Higher Education staff gathered its information about each school, "and the fact that their staff visited all the campuses to see first-hand what our reports indicated."