Showing posts with label facilities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label facilities. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Construction oversight problems throughout SUS prompt action by BOG

Back in September, the Florida Board of Governors launched a review of all funding for construction projects over the past 10 years in response to a scandal at the University of Central Florida.

The Orlando Sentinel reported: “Board of Governors Chair Ned Lautenbach sent a letter to all of the state’s university presidents and board chairs asking them to review funding sources for all projects approved since July 1, 2008.” The letter went out on September 19th.

University of Central Florida

The BOG took the action after then-Florida House of Representatives Speaker Richard Corcoran blasted UCF leaders for misusing $38M in Education & General dollars. UCF spent the money to build the new Trevor Colbourn Hall even though E&G dollars aren’t supposed to be used for construction projects.

“I am baffled by how the actions of one irresponsible officer’s effort at flouting the Legislature’s and state university system’s budget controls could result in a four-year-long unauthorized endeavor of this magnitude,” Corcoran wrote. “There are only two possibilities: that others within UCF were aware of and conspired in this misuse of public funds, or your administration lacks the necessary internal controls to manage its fiscal responsibilities.”

Corcoran asked the incoming House speaker to lead an investigation into the issue. Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has appointed Corcoran to serve as the next Florida commission of education.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

FAMU unveils details of $2.7M student performance amphitheater construction project

An increase from 100 to 200 student clubs and organizations over the past few years is a positive indicator of the high demand for Florida A&M University’s growing co-curricular offerings. In order to accommodate and modernize the social, experiential learning and accessibility needs of the student body, the University is in the planning stages of a new performing arts amphitheater to enhance the student experience and customer service, which are priorities of the University’s “FAMU Rising” Strategic Plan.

Developing the outdoor gathering space is the brainchild of the 2017-2018 members of the Student Government Association (SGA), who saw the need to meet the growing demand for more activity space for the campus community.

The amphitheater will include a stage with an approximate radius of 22’, ample seating, enhanced wheelchair access and green space. It will also help enhance the University’s market day, “Set Friday,” an ongoing student tradition at FAMU for decades.

Students will be able to host meetings, performances, rehearsals, key events, food trucks, outdoor markets, and festivals at the amphitheater, which will be designed to promote more culturally diverse activities and events that unify the student body. It will also be available as a rental space for the greater community, which will assist the University in generating additional revenue to enhance the student experience.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nelson should sponsor a Senate companion bill for Lawson’s $50M HBCU Parity Act

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson speaking at the FAMU School of the Environment in 2017
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, was a supporter of the funding boost that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) received in the new federal budget. Back on February 22, 2018, he was one of 14 senators who signed a letter “to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies requesting that the upcoming omnibus bill contain a restoration and increase in federal support to HBCUs.”

That effort helped secure a multi-million dollar increase in Title III money for HBCUs.

But much more work needs to be done. Florida A&M University alumnus and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson recently introduced the HBCU Parity Act. Nelson should introduce a companion bill for that proposed act in the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Nicole Washington’s proposal could hurt athletics, student housing construction in SUS

A proposal introduced by Nicole Washington, a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Committee, could hurt athletics and student housing facility construction in the State University System of Florida (SUS).

A staff analysis of the proposal Washington put forward states that it would change the constitution to mandate “a favorable vote of 9 of the 13 members of a BOT to propose a new fee or fee increase. The fee is also subject to BOG approval, and 12 of the 17 BOG members would have to approve the fee increase in order for it to be imposed.”

If the full Florida Constitution Revision committee approves the proposal, it would appear on the Florida ballot. Voters would need to support it by 60 percent for it to pass.

The staff analysis calls the fiscal impact of the proposal “indeterminate.” But the change could make it harder for public universities to make adjustments in fees in order to finance athletics and student housing building projects.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Lawson introduces HBCU Parity Act to bolster campus facility funding

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) recently introduced the HBCU Parity Act of 2018 (HR 5122), a bill that will ensure funding for facility improvements at historically black universities that were established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890 and Tuskegee University.

For many historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), there is a dire need for deferred maintenance support, particularly for 1890 institutions. These institutions of higher learning serve as agricultural centers for their communities, cultivating the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“I am pleased to introduce the HBCU Parity Act of 2018 that will provide much needed resources to our land grant institutions,” said Lawson. “Having state-of-the-art facilities will allow HBCUs to be more competitive in their recruitment efforts, which in turn, will offer a stronger and more diverse cohort of individuals in the nation’s agricultural industry.”

Thursday, March 08, 2018

BOT to vote on replacing McGuinn, Cropper, Diamond, Wheatley with new 700-bed facility

The Florida A&M University Board of Trustees is set to vote on plans to demolish Wheatley, Cropper, Diamond, and McGuinn Halls and replace them with a new 700-bed facility.

All four dormitories have been offline since Fall 2014, when FAMU Village opened. FAMU Village replaced the previously demolished Polkinghorne Village and has 800 beds.

The predevelopment agreement approved by the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee yesterday states that the project will provide “the construction of a student housing facility containing approximately 700 beds, and a dining facility containing approximately between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet of usable space (“Phase 1A”).” The full FAMU BOT will vote on the agreement today.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

FAMU sets 2019 anticipated completion date for CASS building

Florida A&M University (FAMU) has set an anticipated completion date of July 20, 2019 for the Center for Access and Student Success (CASS). University officials and state lawmakers broke ground on the construction site for the facility on June 8th.

The building site for CASS is on the Wahnish Way parking next the Jake Gaither Gymnasium. Work on the foundation is scheduled to start on March 31, 2018.

FAMU has received $16,155,000 of the total $39,355,000 cost of the CASS from the Florida Legislature. CASS is the top priority on FAMU’s list of Public Education Capital Outlay funding requests.

According to FAMU: “The FAMU Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) is designed to be a multipurpose building serving as a one-stop shop for programs like recruitment, admissions, financial aid and enrollment management. This building will also house registrar, scholarship office, counseling services and the Center for Disability Access and Resources.” 

Friday, June 02, 2017

FAMU to hold groundbreaking ceremony for new Center for Access and Student Success

Florida A&M University will officially break ground on the new Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) during a ceremony set for Thursday, June 8, 2017, following the Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for that day.

The building site for CASS will be a Wahnish Way parking next the Jake Gaither Gymnasium. The total cost of the CASS will be $39,355,000. FAMU has already received $12,655,000 of that amount from the state. The Florida Legislature recently approved an additional $3,500,000 for CASS during its 2017 session. Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t yet announced whether he will support or veto that line item.

According to FAMU: “The FAMU Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) is designed to be a multipurpose building serving as a one-stop shop for programs like recruitment, admissions, financial aid and enrollment management. This building will also house registrar, scholarship office, counseling services and the Center for Disability Access and Resources.” 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Florida Legislature approves additional $3.5M for FAMU CASS building

The Florida Legislature has approved an additional $3,500,000 appropriation for the new Florida A&M University Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) Building. Gov. Rick Scott will soon decide whether to line item veto the money or let it stay in the state budget.

The total cost of the CASS will be $39,355,000. The legislature has already provided $12,655,000. If the additional funds don’t survive Scott’s veto pen, then the project could fall behind schedule and end up costing more.

According to FAMU: “The FAMU Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) is designed to be a multipurpose building serving as a one-stop shop for programs like recruitment, admissions, financial aid and enrollment management. This building will also house registrar, scholarship office, counseling services and the Center for Disability Access and Resources.” 

Back on January 17, 2017, the FAMU BOT approved an administrative proposal to change the CASS building site from McGuinn Diamond Hall to a Wahnish Way parking next the Jake Gaither Gymnasium. The change is expected to save approximately $208,000.

Monday, February 27, 2017

FAMU seeking $6.9M to remodel Dyson building

Florida A&M University is seeking $6,951,500 to remodel the Dyson building, which was formerly the central facility for the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“The remodel of the Dyson building will provide classrooms, teaching labs, faculty and support offices, and service areas to meet the Universities mission for teaching, research and community engagement,” Interim President Larry Robinson said in a request form. “The University graduation rate will improve with more teaching classrooms and labs. This project is aligned with Board of Governor's strategic priority to increase the number of degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.”

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Planned CASS site might move from McGuinn Diamond Hall to Gaither Gym parking lot

On Friday, the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee will consider a proposal to change the site of the new Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) Building from McGuinn Diamond Hall to a Wahnish Way parking next the Jake Gaither Gymnasium.

The “analysis/overview” section of an action item request prepared by the administration stated that the modification would produce “a net decrease in cost of approximately $208,000.” It said that one big reason for this is that FAMU would avoid the costs associated with demolishing the McGuinn Diamond.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Overton says $622K price tag for repairs won’t jeopardize 2017 home games in Bragg

Back in December, Florida A&M University announced that it needs hundreds of thousands of dollars for critical repairs to Bragg Memorial Stadium.

According to Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jordan Culver, FAMU Chief Financial Officer Angela Poole explained that if FAMU doesn’t obtain the full $622,000 required for the mandatory repairs, then some sections of the football stadium will have to be closed.

Last week, Athletic Director Milton Overton sent a statement to WTXL reassuring the public that Bragg will be open for the 2017.

Monday, January 09, 2017

FAMU needs $5.4M for critical Bragg Stadium repairs over next 5 years

Bragg Memorial Stadium, home of Rattler football, needs $5,459,500 over the next five years for critical repairs.

On Friday, Interim Chief Financial Officer Wanda Ford and Athletic Director Milton Overton will present an “Athletics Budget Discussion” to the FAMU Board of Trustees Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee.

The report lists five “phases” that need to be completed over the next five years. They are: (1) $622,000 for “structural repairs & internal stair replacement,” (2) $1,937,500 to “sand blast & repainting of steel frame, (3) $500,000 to “sand blast and repaint steel pans & seat and handrail repairs (to prevent deterioration due to corrosion)”, (4) $1,300,000 for “restroom renovation or replacement (8 areas) (Code/ADA compliance),” and (5) $1,100,000 for “press box replacement (for ADA compliance).” 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Athletic fee losses from enrollment decline reduced funds for critical Bragg repairs

Yesterday, many so-called Rattlers who didn’t care about the multi-million dollar enrollment decline under former President Elmira Mangum threw fits on Facebook over news about a financial problem that was made worse by those student loses. 

Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jordan Culver discussed the details that Athletic Director Milton Overton Jr. and Chief Financial Officer Angela Poole shared during a Board of Trustees workshop.

“FAMU must spend $622,000 for structural repairs and internal stair replacement or [Bragg Memorial Stadium] will not be cleared for fall competition,” Culver tweeted yesterday.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Report findings don’t match Warren’s 2015 explanation for President’s House renovations

Back in October, FAMU Trustee Cleve Warren said he didn’t think the capital improvements that had taken place at the on-campus President’s House after the start date of President Elmira Mangum’s contract were ones that required approval by the Board of Trustees (BOT). But an independent report by Grant Thornton LLP said that a $71,529 garage project that began in June 2014 should have been presented to the BOT for a vote before it was started.

The BOT scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the garage and other renovations at President’s House on October 22, 2015. Joe Bakker, who had retired as the interim chief financial officer (CFO), wrote then-CFO Dale Cassidy a letter about the issue two days before that meeting. Bakker said the garage didn’t need BOT approval because it was paid out of Minor Projects Fund dollars.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Questions remain about who proposed garage project at FAMU President’s House

FAMU released the results of an independent report on the controversial addition of a garage to the on-campus President’s House on Saturday. But questions still remain about who proposed the $71,529 project.

An independent report by Grant Thornton, LLP report states that:  “The results of a walkthrough meeting in March 2014 between the University’s Interim VP of Administration and Financial Services and the BOT Facilities Planning Chairman was not formally documented. At that walkthrough meeting, the BOT member recommended that a garage be added to the University owned residence. This meeting was subsequently documented by the University’s Director of Physical Plant in October 2015; however, no formal BOT approval of this project was documented.”

Kendall D. Jones, the FAMU Director of Plant Operations & Maintenance, said in an October 28, 2015 memo that Board of Trustees (BOT) that Facilities Planning Chairman Spurgeon McWilliams participated in the walkthrough on March 13, 2014. But Jones stated that then-BOT Chairman Chuck Badger was the one who proposed a new garage.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Grant Thornton report at odds with Mangum’s claim that BOT “authorized the garage project”

Grant Thornton LLP has released its findings on a $71,529 garage project at the on-campus FAMU President’s House that nearly led to the firing of President Elmira Mangum in October.

The employment agreement between Mangum and the Board of Trustees (BOT) states that: “Dr. Mangum shall obtain prior approval from the Board (or its designee) for any capital improvements or repairs to the home or its grounds which have a project cost over $10,000.” The purchase order for the garage project was made on June 19, 2014, which was after the April 1, 2014 start date of Mangum’s contract.

Mangum sent a memo to the BOT on October 21, 2015 that said that: “I did not have any knowledge nor did I authorize or sign off on the construction of the garage. Upon further inquiry, it was discovered that the Board of Trustees authorized the garage project.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Renovations, $371,738 at FAMU and $274,536 at FGCU, lead to testy exchanges

Front door at FAMU President’s House 
installed in Sept. 2014 for $11,519
Today, Florida A&M University is set to receive a report from Grant Thornton LLP that will include a review of controversial renovations at the on-campus President’s House.

On Oct. 1, the Florida auditor general’s office asked FAMU Vice-President Rick Givens to look into whether two purchase orders for renovations at the President’s House had received Board of Trustees approval. The first was issued February 13, 2014 and was for $300,209. The second, which was for a garage project, was issued on June 19, 2014 and was for $71,529.

The employment agreement between President Elmira Mangum and the BOT states that that the president “shall obtain prior approval from the Board (or its designee) for any capital improvements or repairs to the home or its grounds which have a project cost over $10,000.”

Friday, February 12, 2016

FAMU to receive outside review report on President’s House garage, bonuses on Feb. 16

On Tuesday of next week, Florida A&M University will receive a report from the firm hired to conduct an independent review of controversial capital improvements at the on-campus President’s House and bonuses that were awarded to members of President Elmira Mangum’s staff. 

FAMU Vice-President for Audit and Compliance Rick Givens told university trustees on Wednesday that Grant Thornton LLP was selected for the job and will submit its written conclusions on Feb. 16.

The FAMU internal auditor normally carries out such investigations. But the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to have an outside company do the review after Givens reported “potential interference with the work of Audit & Compliance” in an Oct. 21 email to then-Chairman Rufus Montgomery.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Rattlers make case for new Student Affairs Building during FAMU Day at the Capitol

FAMU Foote-Hilyer Administration Center
On Thursday, Rattler students, faculty, alumni, and administrators lobbied state officials during FAMU Day at the Capitol. One priority on the 2016 Legislative Budget Request is $26.5M for a new Student Affairs Building.

According to the FAMU Office of Governmental Relations: “Last year, the Legislature provided $6,155,000 of PECO funds to finance the planning and design of a new Student Affairs Building. PECO funding is being requested for the construction of a new Student Affairs Building that will enable the University to consolidate the delivery of essential student services, thereby helping to improve customer service and our performance under the Board of Governor's Performance Funding Model.”