By Caitlyn Crenshaw–
The University of Louisville is requesting $77 million of state funds be allocated to the construction of a new academic building on the Belknap campus.
No plans have been finalized, but the “request has gone to the Council of Postsecondary Education and funding will be considered during the next legislative session,” said U of L Executive Vice President and provost Shirley Willihnganz, whose job it is to prioritize the proposal and work with departments to see what will be housed in the new building.
According the university’s 2010-2011 operating budget of $1.19 billion, $180.58 million was contributed by the state.
As the university’s retention rates have increased, graduation rates shot up and academis and research programs proliferated. The space is exceedingly needed, said Willihnganz. The new academic building promotes the university’s 2020 plan of growth, which includes a commitment to educational excellence.
“Right now, we can’t offer more courses or develop many new programs because we have nowhere to house them,” Willihnganz said. “The space is very important to our ability to achieve the academic mission articulated in the 2020 plan.”
Through the many upcoming and current construction projects of the university – such as the addition to the Speed Art Museum, the Frazier College of Business and the new academic building – the university hopes more prospective students will visit and matriculate at U of L.
“We remind ourselves that attracting the very best students to the University of Louisville helps stem the brain drain from Kentucky – an important policy objective,” said U of L President James Ramsey in his State of the University address earlier in September.
According to Willihnganz, the lack of academic space has been exponentially increasing.
“A study done by the CPE about five years ago showed that U of L was short of space at that time and… that our shortage of space would just get worse as time went on,” Willihnganz said.
Five years later, the university is seeking to combat the problem by submitting a proposal to fund a new academic building.
“I think it will be good because it will bring space for new programs and it will make campus larger,” said sophomore fine arts major Emily Slaven.
In addition to supplemental academic space, the university hopes the new building would enhance aesthetic appearance of the Belknap campus.
“The building will be placed to the area north of the natural sciences building, and will be fronted with a reflecting pool at the end of the Center Walk through the center of campus,” Willihnganz said.
“When the legislature convenes in January, our request will be authorized and that’s really our number one request going forward with the building,” said Larry Owesley, Vice President of Business Affairs.
However, until the funding is authorized, the plans are trapped in waiting. Willihnganz said if the state decides to allocate the funds, the university “would develop detailed plans” and could start construction around the 2013-2014 academic year.
Photo: Rod Foster/Wikimedia Commons