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Published: 1/24/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Local colleges would share $45M if state OKs funding

Money would repair buildings, reduce costs

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
What they'll get: 

About $45 million of the proposed $400 million in capital funds for Ohio public universities and colleges would go to northwest Ohio schools:

■ UT: $21 million*

■ BGSU: $17 million

■ Owens: $5.5 million

■ Terra State: $1.2 million

* $2 million of these funds would pay for a joint project among UT, Terra State, and Northwest State Community College

Local colleges and universities could share nearly $45 million to renovate buildings, reduce operating costs, and build program centers if a commission’s recommendations are approved by state lawmakers.

The Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission, a collaboration of Ohio public college and university presidents, released recommendations Thursday for about $400 million in state capital funds. That’s an increase of about $50 million over the last round in 2012.

Though lawmakers must approve capital funds, Gov. John Kasich expressed support for the recommendations, and hailed the collaboration.

“They will get a little bit more money in this bill,” he said, “which we are delighted to give them.”

About 88 percent of the money would go toward maintenance and repair projects on public campuses, meaning the proposal isn’t meant for major college expansions.

This is the second time the commission developed funding proposals; in prior years, capital requests came individually from schools, pitting institutions against each other.

Locally, the University of Toledo would get the most money based on the recommendations: $21 million. State funding this year would focus on rehabilitating structures, and most of UT’s projects would follow that vein. Examples include $2 million in elevator repairs, $1.4 million in network infrastructure replacement, and $1.5 million for projects to reduce campus energy usage.

UT’s largest single project would be $3.5 million for maintenance of an anatomy specimen storage facility.

A UT spokesman said no one from the university was available Thursday to comment on the proposed funding.

In addition, $2 million is pegged for a new Northwest Ohio Workforce Development and Advanced Manufacturing Training Center that would be based at UT. But it would a collaboration among the university, Terra State Community College, and Northwest State Community College.

Currently, Northwest and UT run a partnership work force program on the Scott Park campus, said Todd Hernandez, Northwest’s vice president for innovation. The state funding will help grow that partnership, moving it from the fourth floor of the Learning Resources Center to the Engineering Tech Lab Center, and adding Terra State to the mix.

Terra State will offer certificate and associate’s degree coursework in color matching, and Northwest in plastics, Terra State President Jerome Webster said. Students later could earn a bachelor’s degree from UT at the location.

The plastics industry, which has a cluster in northwest Ohio, has varying degrees of expertise requiring varying levels of training, Mr. Webster said, so it helps the industry to have development sites that offer all training levels.

“A student has the opportunity to get the best of all three of our institutions in one location,” he said.

The setup also means the community colleges will collaborate instead of compete, Mr. Hernandez said.

Terra State also would get $1.2 million to fund maintenance or repair for campus roads.

Bowling Green State University’s capital funds are almost entirely for a single project, the modernization of science laboratories in Moseley Hall. The commission recommended $16 million for that project; BGSU also could get $1 million for a project at the Firelands campus.

University President Mary Ellen Mazey, who said she was pleased with the funding process and the result for BGSU, said the capital dollars would help create state-of-the-art lab and classroom space for biology, chemistry, forensics, and other disciplines. The hall, one of BGSU’s first buildings, was in “dire need” of renovations, Ms. Mazey said.

The renovated space will augment another development on campus: a Bureau of Criminal Investigation office to be built at the corner of North College Drive and Leroy Avenue. Students can take forensic classes and labs at the renovated Moseley Hall, then do internships at the BCI lab, Ms. Mazey said.

The total Moseley Hall project will cost about $23 million, with the balance to be raised by BGSU.

Owens Community College could get $5.5 million in capital funds, targeted to pay for renovations of Kingsley, Heritage, and College halls.

The college had proposed $17 million for the three renovation projects; work on Kingsley and Heritage halls would be fully funded under the proposal, but a $12 million project for College Hall only is in line for $750,000, said Laurie Sabine, Owens’ chief financial officer.

Ms. Sabine called the funding process “fair and collaborative,” and that community colleges walked away with reasonable returns.

“You didn’t see big winners and big losers,”she said.

The Kingsley renovation will open space for high-skill work force training and veterans’ services. Virtual training centers will be created in the hall, Ms. Sabine said.

Heritage Hall will add 30 multidiscipline classrooms with smart technology, such as digital-touch whiteboards. The school will have to rethink its College Hall renovations; Owens had hoped to turn the building, which has four additions, into a more user-friendly building.

The funding requests are expected to go before legislators in February or March.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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