OU Closer To Receiving $22.5 Million In Infrastructure Aid

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign a capital appropriations bill into law that allocates $22.5 million to Ohio University for the purpose of repairing the university's aging infrastructure. 

House Bill 482 passed through the House last week and was passed by the Senate on Wednesday. If approved by the governor, the bill would go into effect for the 2013-2014 biennium.

The bill reserves $18.6 million in funding for infrastructure repairs and updates on Ohio University's Athens campus and $3.9 million for OU's regional campuses.

"I feel very excited and pleased that the House and Senate saw fit to pass the bill with very little change," said OU President Roderick McDavis.

The plan created by the Ohio Higher Education Capital Funding Collaborative designates $400 million in funding for capital improvement projects at Ohio's colleges and universities.

This year the state took a very different approach from previous years to determine which higher-education capital projects would receive funding. Instead of using the total square-footage of each university’s facilities to allocate the funding, Kasich assembled a committee, led by Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, to collaboratively make a decision. 

"We think it should be done collaboratively. When you have fewer resources to work with, you have to make sure they are maximized for their best value and not awarded based on whose lobbyist barks the loudest," said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Gov. Kasich. 

The committee took recommendations from each public college and university to determine which projects should receive funding.

McDavis said he was pleased with the new process.

"I thought they reached out and were very inclusive in terms of getting input from all of the presidents of two and four year universities across the state," he said.

Harry Wyatt, OU's associate vice president for facilities, said the money that OU expects to receive will be used for the most urgent deferred maintenance projects on campus.

"When deferred maintenance is let go for a long period of time, there are more unexpected failures with regards to systems, more roof leaks. We will be able to avoid some of that uncertainty in the areas that these projects are targeted," Wyatt said. 

According to Wyatt, OU's safety and risk management office and OU's facilities department conducted an analysis to determine which maintenance projects were most pressing to address.

Wyatt said that about 50 projects are planned for OU's Athens campus, including air handler and elevator upgrades in Alden Library, ramp repairs outside of the Convocation Center, roof repair for academic buildings on West Green and roadways and sidewalks repairs on campus.

According to a copy of the bill on the state legislature's website, the capital appropriations for OU did not change as the bill made its way through the House and Senate.