Governors push recreation center

Dr. Julio León

Dr. Julio León

T.J. Gerlach

With an extra push from the Student Senate, Missouri Southern’s Board of Governors moved ahead with the proposed student recreation center at its Feb. 11 meeting.

Amber Hemphill, Student Senate secretary, sat in as the student representative to the Board. Hemphill said the Senate still supports the recreation facility.

She said growing participation in intramurals and athletic teams exceeding their practice time has increased the need for the rec center. Hemphill said equipment failures in the Student Life Center have added to the need for the facility.

She said the Senate would like to see progress on the facility.

“We first proposed this five years ago,” she said.

The governors discussed various aspects of the rec center.

Dwight Douglas, Board president, said Southern should try to build the facility for about $9 million. Of this, he said about $1 million would be paid for by various donors. Douglas said he knows of at least two people talking to the Southern Foundation who are interested in donating money for the facility. One of whom would donate if the health center were included in the new building.

The other $8 million would be paid for through student fees once the facility is completed.

University President Julio León said students fees would be between about $77 and $88 per semester once the rec center is completed.

Charging student fees for the building sparked some discussion among the governors.

Dr. Charles McGinty, Governor, raised concerns about whether to and how to charge part-time students for the rec center.

The Board decided to take up the matter closer to the time when it would need to decide on how much to charge students.

David Ansley, Governor, asked Hemphill if she believed students would pay the fee when it was assessed.

Hemphill said she believed they would. She said she has looked at other universities fees and Southern does not have a health center fee as many other institutions have.

Ansley agreed with Hemphill.

“This is a fee you actually get something in return for,” he said.

Also discussed was possible locations for the facility.

McGinty said he thought behind or attached to the Billingsly Student Center would be a good place. Dr. Terri Agee, vice president for business affairs, said the student survey done in spring 2004 showed the northeast corner of Newman and Duquesne Roads as the student-preferred position.

Douglas recommended wherever it is placed should be on level ground, to help keep construction costs low, and it should be a freestanding structure so adding on in the future could be done more easily.

Douglas said after the Board toured similar facilities in Springfield, Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa, the University of Tulsa’s Alan Chapman Activity Center appeared to be most like what Southern needs. It was completed in 2002 for a little more than $10.1 million.

He said TU’s ACAC had three basketball courts, an elevated track, exercise equipment and a weight room, all laid out so a staff of only one or two people could manage the facility.

The board decided to have Agee have the architects start designing the facility with TU’s ACAC in mind. Douglas said he would like to have the design ready for the Governor’s next meeting.

The other major topic at the meeting was the situation concerning the budget for the next year.

León said Gov. Matt Blunt recommended $20.8 million dollars for Southern. León said this was $250,000 less than recommended last year.

“Education is essentially holding a priority in the mind of the Governor,” he said.

León said Blunt has recommended level funding for higher education, but withholdings are still possible.

Other topics discussed at the meeting:

Agee said the first step in restoring the mansion has been taken. Architects have toured the mansion, and a bid will be selected by the Board at the next meeting.

Hemphill said the Homecoming committee has selected a Mexican Fiesta theme for next fall’s Homecoming. She said this will coincide with the Mexico Semester.

Douglas mentioned the recent graduation of students from H. Levity Community College in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

“I was just amazed at the enthusiasm of the students,” Douglas said.

He said he hopes the program between HLCC and Southern will soon extend to a virtual classroom so students from both campuses can participate in the process.

Debbie McCoy, from BKD, LLP, presented the findings of Southern’s latest audit.

“The audit you have is something the University can be proud of,” McCoy said.

She said Southern received an unqualified opinion, the best opinion rating.

Dr. Richard McCallum, vice president for academic affairs, submitted the proposal for a sabbatical by Dr. Deborah Pulliam, associate professor of teacher education.

The Board approved the sabbatical.

The Board approved a name change for the Industrial Materials course. It will now be called Engineering Materials. This will help with Southern’s accreditation.

The Board approved the resignations of Dr. Amy Kay-Cole, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Michael Hulderman, associate professor of criminal justice.

Douglas said he wants to update the Board’s by-laws during this summer’s retreat. The last revision was done in 1965, and the rules were last updated in 1989.

The meeting ended with the Board going into executive session for further audit discussion and discussion of legal matters.