Purchase photos

FHSU continues investment

8/12/2012

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

From old buildings-turned-new to brand-new construction, Dana Cunningham has seen his share of changes on campus in his 20 years as director of facilities planning at Fort Hays State University.

But he's not sure he's ever seen it as busy as it is on campus right now.

Crews are completing the first phase of Tiger Place, a suite-style residence hall taking the place of the old Agnew Hall that was torn down a couple of years ago.

Ground was broken in June for a new indoor athletic training facility southeast of Lewis Field Stadium.

Students this year for the first time will be able to cruise along Big Creek on a new road -- Dwight Drive. The extension of Dwight Drive from Wooster Place along the dike connects drivers with Gustad Drive, the road crossing the creek and providing another driving option to Gross Memorial Coliseum and the Robbins Center.

That road also will provide access to a new academic building, the Center for Networked Learning, scheduled for completion by the summer of 2014.

The 37,150-square-foot building, which will cost approximately $11.2 million, includes nearly 1,500 square feet of "shelled space" for future growth.

It will house the Virtual College, the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technology, the Department of Informatics, the radio and TV studios, and laboratories for the new information systems engineering program.

Those four projects represent a university investment of approximately $30 million.

"We typically have one or two capital projects in planning or construction at any one time," Cunningham said. "This is pretty high volume for us."

Construction will be ongoing throughout the school year. The indoor athletic facility is scheduled for completion next spring, and the second phase of Tiger Place, next summer.

"When I started here 20 years ago, we received as low as $250,000 to $300,000 annually in repair and rehabilitation dollars from the educational building fund," he said. "This year, we're receiving $2.6 million.

"It's grown significantly to let us undergo bigger and more significant projects," Cunningham added. "The university also has undertaken a number of projects with its own strategic funding."

Edward H. Hammond, in his 26th year as president of FHSU, agreed.

"While the nation has struggled, we have enjoyed three years busier than we've ever been," Hammond said. "We've been blessed to be very busy in a tough economy."