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EKU Opts Out of State Oversight on Building Projects

EKU takes the first steps in opting out of state oversight on building projects

Eastern Progress

Sept. 9, 2015

By Kasey Tyring

The future of Eastern construction is now securely in the hands of it’s own committee that will be composed of full time Eastern employees.

Kentucky House-Bill 622 allows governing bodies of public universities to perform managment functions previously perfomed by the state. In it’s current program the state is in control of all capital construction projects worth more than $599,000. This could cause the state officials to not care as much about the project as they could, or cause them to burn out with all their other state projects, Paul Gannoe said, director of capital construction and project administration at Eastern.

The Board of Regents met Tuesday, Sept. 8, voting in favor of opting out of the state bill, which opens up nearly every project Eastern administration has on their timeline.

Choosing to take control of the management of capital project puts Eastern in league with the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Western, Northern and Murray.

Gannoe explained what the transition means:

“Since we’ve been doing capital construction on campus, we’ve been operating under the authority and direction of the finance and administration cabinet,” Gannoe said. “When we want to start implementing capital construction projects, our first call is to them and we ask permission to procure the services of a design team, and they create a selection committee.”

Gannoe said not only is the current process slow because they have to ask permission for every detail of a construction project, the projects are also one of many the cabinet has to deal with including projects from Corrections, Education, and Health and Family Services and other public universities.

The current system also doesn’t work in Eastern’s favor, Gannoe said. Stating the teams assembled for Eastern projects only have to have two people with connections to Eastern, the others can be independent or state employees. With Eastern having control over their own capital construction program it will be a full team of Eastern-centric people.

“It’s about priorities. It’s about time frames. It’s about the ability to make the selections with five or six or seven EKU-connected people…instead of two people with the best interest of EKU in mind,” Gannoe said.

Eastern already has a team in place ready to take the responsibility including a civil engineer, an architect and they even have two graduates of the construction management program working on the team.

He said the projects under construction right now will continue to operate under the finance department. Such as some athletics improvements and the upgrades to Ramsey Heat Plant.

Amy Theime, faculty regent, asked if the change would create additional costs to the university and if so, would the costs be worth the extra responsibility? Gannoe said the additional costs would be minimal, there would only be one new hire for the team and any other costs would be to update software or train the employees on the team. Most Eastern employees working on the projects would already be with Eastern, just under a different position.

Gannoe said the additional costs would be worth it just to make the process more efficient, with better quality work because they’ll have tighter control of the outcome.

President Michael Benson said the change, while risky, would be best the university.

“To be able to control our own destiny and meet the timeline we’ve set [for compital projects]…knowing that we can either speed it up or gum it up…it’s all up to this crew and that’s what we want, to be in control of our own destiny.”

Also during the meeting, Katie Scott, Nancy Collins and Craig King were sworn in as Regents.

Published on September 14, 2015

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