By Jeff Murphy, February 15, 2016
WARRENSBURG, MO – Actions taken by the Board of Governors Feb. 12 will enable the University of Central Missouri to make continued progress toward enhancing the quality of the campus learning and living environment while also extending its educational outreach to more than 1 million Missourians.
Board action and discussion took place at a time of tremendous growth. As the meeting began, UCM President Charles Ambrose announced that the spring 2016 census showed an enrollment of 14,519 students on campus – the third consecutive year spring enrollment has surpassed fall enrollment, which was 14,395 in fall 2015, and the 11th consecutive year there was a record increase in spring student headcount, according to Ambrose. Total graduate and undergraduate enrollment for this semester is up 5.2 percent over spring 2015.
To help accommodate growth, the university in August 2015 opened a new 325-bed apartment-retail facility, The Crossing – South at Holden, while also continuing to maintain an ongoing program of upgrades in other campus residential facilities. These efforts were boosted by the board when it approved a sole-source contract in the amount of $780,662 with Miracle Method of Blue Springs to upgrade the bathtub and shower surrounds in a total of 307 rooms in the Ellis Residence Hall Complex and in Nattinger-Bradshaw Residence Hall.
Patrick Bradley, senior housing director, noted that bathrooms in the Ellis Complex were updated in 1999, and similar work took place in Nattinger-Bradshaw the following year. Miracle Method has one installer for the UCM region. This installer will complete work in these residence halls prior to the start of the fall 2016 semester, completing a multi-year cycle of residence hall improvements on campus.
“It will really provide a good first impression when students move in,” Bradley told the board.
With the increase in student numbers, UCM also is planning to expand its parking facilities. Board action allows the university to add almost 400 new spaces near the intersection of King and Washington streets, west of Audrey J. Walton Stadium. Board members approved the award of a construction contract for $1,494,011 to Westport Construction, Clinton, Mo. Funding will come from Parking Services and the General Fund Reserve, with a goal to have the west campus parking additions ready for students to use in fall 2016.
Burns & McDonnell engineering firm in Kansas City has worked with the university to design the proposed parking facilities, as well as conduct topographical surveys and geotechnical investigations to help ensure proper runoff. Work will include a tiered approach to parking, which includes green space, a bus stop area at the east end, and game day plaza area for pedestrians and tent placement for athletic events and other outdoor activities.
Enhancing KMOS-TV’s ability to deliver locally produced educational content to 1.1 million viewers in its coverage area, the board authorized funding up to $603,190 for upgraded Master Control equipment. This investment will be made through the utilization of reserve funds that came from the sale of KTBG 90.9 FM to Kansas City Public Television (KCPT).
KMOS-TV’s Master Control functions as the central hub for all PBS programming, the
repository for an extensive content library, and the point of origin for all broadcasts.
It also is the control point from which all Emergency Alert System messages are monitored
and broadcast to the general public. According to
Phil Hoffman, director of broadcasting services, and Josh Tomlinson, assistant director for technology at KMOS-TV, the majority of the public television station’s Master Control equipment has reached the end of its usable life, and the original manufacturer no longer supports most of the equipment. Equipment failures in recent months have hindered the station’s ability to broadcast, and have necessitated the need for new Master Control equipment. This will allow the station to meet its obligations to viewers and stakeholders by reestablishing a stable and supportable Master Control, and to meet and exceed the federally mandated compliance for a television station to be able to monitor its broadcast signal.
Target dates for installation of compliance and automation equipment will begin in March, with a targeted switchover to complete operation of the updated Master Control equipment by July 5, 2016. In addition to the advantages this upgrade provides for KMOS-TV to better serving its viewers, it also provides the potential to increase its revenue with multi-channel pledge drives and corporate support, and the opportunity for students to work with the latest broadcast technology and video software.
Although there were no board actions regarding upcoming efforts to renovate the Wilson C. Morris Science Building, board members had an opportunity to thank a couple of key supporters in legislation that made $12.2 million in funding for the initiative possible. Senator David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, and Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, attended the meeting to talk about various legislation issues that will have an impact on higher education. Parson championed the bond package that appropriated state funding for the renovation.
“It was a privilege and an honor for me to be the one to carry that legislation, but it was a team effort from the start,” Parson told the board. He noted that President Ambrose and others who support UCM were instrumental in helping legislators understand the need for the capital appropriations bill that led to $200 million in funding for projects at two- and four-year public colleges and universities across the state.
In seeking capital funding, the university recognized the important role W.C. Morris provides in educating students in critical areas, and the types of upgrades that are needed to create the best possible learning environment. The building does not currently have the necessary infrastructure, classroom and laboratory spaces to serve the changing needs of today’s science and mathematics programs. State appropriations will provide a partial renovation focusing on increased utilization and safety of existing teaching laboratories and classrooms in chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology and earth science. It also will enable the university to not only increase graduation rates, but will contribute to increased numbers of graduates in professional applied sciences and technologies, and STEM areas, and help better prepare mathematics and science teachers who can serve the state.