MURRAY — Murray State University President Bob Jackson discussed some of the major projects the university would soon be undertaking to improve campus facilities during a budget forum hosted at the university Thursday. 

Jackson said these projects both serve to improve the infrastructure on campus while also aiming to attract more students to the university. This included the tackling of deferred maintenance for many buildings on campus, including renovations to the Curris Center. 

Jackson said an increase of $1 million would go toward deferred maintenance, with a new $7 per credit hour fee being created to help fund such maintenance. Other entities, such as Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, bring with them their own funding for renovations.

“We have talked a lot about Chick-fil-A in the Curris Center, so part of that contract provides money for renovations in part of the Curris Center,” Jackson said. “That’s the same for Starbucks in the Curris Center. (With) Einsteins Bros. Bagels in Waterfield Library, there are dollars there to improve that particular area.” 

Jackson said the Curris Center would be the focus of other renovations and major enhancements. One mentioned was a redesign and rebuild of the center’s parking lot that will offer roughly 30 additional spaces and improve lighting for students and staff. 

“In regard to the Curris Center, there will be a major refresh and enhancement over the course of the next many months,” Jackson said. “That is a focal point from student recruiting; it is a focal point for our students and it is a focal point for Murray State University. So when we bring students here, the No. 1 determinate of turning a recruit into an enrollment is getting them on campus. 

“We always must do a better job regarding getting more folks on campus. When they come to the campus, where do they go? They go to the Curris Center. So there are some things we need to do to the Curris Center to enhance that experience for prospective students and families.” 

Jackson said that repairs to the J.H. Richmond residential hall was slated to be completed by August. Repairs to Waterfield Library involving water leaks and HVAC systems repair were mentioned as well, in addition to renovations being made to the Blackburn Science Building to accommodate new programs to that facility. 

Jackson said there would be renovations made to the entrance to Sparks Hall, included ADA access improvements and the replacement of canopies. The parking lot of Roy Stewart Stadium is also slated to be resurfaced. 

Jackson said Woods Hall would be razed very soon, and that the New Fine Arts building, as one of the largest and most visible structures on campus, would be subjected to pressure washing and a possible new paint job. 

“We are looking at energy savings performance contracts; we have talked to the board a little bit about these particular items,” Jackson said. “We need to replace lighting, we need to replace HVAC systems, we need to update the 1940s version of things to 2019. So we are talking to firms in regard to that type of work. Our No. 1 deferred maintenance project on this campus, our biggest capital project, is about a $16 million project and that is our electrical grid.”

Jackson noted that the Old Richmond residential college would not be used in the fall, and said that building could also be razed should the board of regents decide to do so. 

“We have a firm right now looking at housing facilities,” Jackson said. “Old Richmond will not be used in the fall, and a recommendation may go to the board to take that building down as well. Empty buildings are huge liability and safety issues.” 

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