Big changes with Board of Regents approval

Various propositions regarding future construction projects on the campus of Sam Houston State University will be under consideration when the Board of Regents convene today and tomorrow for their quarterly meeting.

Some of these proposals include a new engineering and technology building to be named after alum Fred Pirkle, a new south dining facility to accommodate the anticipated south residential district, as well as the interlocal agreement with the city of Huntsville.

Fred Pirkle Engineering Technology Center

Originally part of the campus master plan approved by the board in February 2013, the Fred Pirkle Engineering Technology Center will be funded in part by money provided by the late Pirkle, with the total budget for the project estimated at $22 million—$12,000 of which will be funded by TSUS bonds.

The site of the project is located at the northeast corner of Bowers Blvd. and Sam Houston Avenue adjacent to the current Chemistry and Forensics Sciences building where presently a parking lot resides. The center is planned to be roughly 53,000 square-feet including instructional labs for agricultural science and engineering technology. Additionally, the facility will host an interdisciplinary multipurpose room, administrative offices, common lobbies and an exhibit honoring Pirkle’s life and life’s work.

According to the board book, the project is justified by a growing interest in the field, increased enrollment and currently inadequate facilities.

South Residential Dining Facility

The South Residential District, also part of the master plan approved two years ago, is composed of housing, food service and parking lots. However, each component of the district is to be proposed as its own entity. The dining facility is budgeted at $14,125,849 and will be funded through TSUS bonds equaling $5 million and auxiliary funds totaling $10 million.

The facility will include fresh food, bakery items, dry breakfast foods and beverage stations and to accommodate 600 patrons with interior and exterior seating.

University spokeswomen Julia May and marketing coordinator for dining services Jimmy Williams did not wish to comment on whether or not the facility would include a sports bar to serve alcohol.

The project will be located at the northwest corner of Avenue J and 21st Street adjacent to South Paw to allow for a shared service entrance. To accommodate the new facility, Art building “G” will be demolished.

Online Learning

SHSU is requesting authorization to offer both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in sociology via online courses.

This request can be slightly misconstrued, because although the university will have permission to offer degree programs completely online, that doesn’t mean they will, according to Douglas Constance, director of undergraduate studies.

Students will be able to earn a minor in sociology through six online classes alone. Two physical classes will be required of sociology majors, however.

“We are competing with programs like The University of Phoenix or Western Governors, so the university, in its wisdom, is supporting online programs and [the] sociology [department]…embraced that, up to a point,” Constance said. “There are still two classes that are not taught online, because right now the faculty think that those are essential to have direct face-to-face contact with our students.”

According to Constance, the online sociology minor is extremely popular among students and stemmed mainly from student demand for a more flexible schedule.

“A lot of our students work, commute [and] have families, and they like this online dementia for their scheduling,” Constance said.

Room and Board Rates

Room and board rates for on-campus living could potentially be raised by approximately four percent, according to the board’s agenda.

According to the agenda, the small houses, which includes Anne-Shaver, Spivey, Vick, etc., will be raised from $1,790 per semester to $1,860. Bearkat Village, the highest priced on-campus living option, will raise from $2,878 to $2,992.

The university is requesting the increase in rates to compensate for SHSU’s population growth, along with the increase in fees needed to maintain existing halls and those needed to potentially construct new halls.

The agenda says that SHSU will be using more energy-conserving materials in the construction and maintenance of all halls.
Each meal plan will also undergo changes. The All-Access Plan will increase from $1,805 to $1,890 and the 15 Meal Plan will increase from $1,695 to $1,770.

The university is requesting these increases based off of the increase in price of goods as well as the two percent raise in employee wage.

This will also result in a renewed contract with Aramark.

Department name change

In order to decrease student confusion, the Department of Counseling is requesting to change their name to the Department of Counselor Education.

According to the agenda, the current name could be potentially misleading for students who are seeking help from a counselor at the university’s counseling center. Rather, the Department of Counseling focuses on providing training experiences for students seeking to become professional counselors.

If approved, the name change will be effective August 2015.

Interlocal Agreement

Another item up for approval by the board is the interlocal agreement between SHSU and the city of Huntsville to implement various pedestrian safety and traffic calming elements on Bobby K. Marks Drive between Bowers Blvd. and 17th Street. This agreement, initiated by the Student Government Association, was recently voted on and passed by the Huntsville City Council during their meeting Feb. 3.

Twelfth Class Day Reports

Lastly, the Twelfth Class Day reports for the spring 2015 semester will be presented and up for approval at the May 2015 board meeting. This report includes the total student population for a particular semester and their demographics which is presently estimated at 18,088—a two percent increase from spring 2014.


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