NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents moved the Norman campus forward in several major projects at a meeting Thursday in the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
The board approved designs for a new, two-story lobby addition to Hester Hall, a fifth multi-tenant office facility (Five Partners Place) on the research campus and major reconstruction projects including the South Oval Scholar’s Walk/Asp Avenue and the Faculty Club (formerly University Club) renovation in the Union.
In his address to the board, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, associate vice president for research and Regents professor of meteorology, said the new, 100,000-square-foot Five Partners Place will aid in the campus’ fast-paced expansion.
“The campus is already $20 million over last year’s numbers in grant money, and we’re really bursting at the seams. This will be a very helpful addition,” Droegemeier said.
The two noted reconstruction projects have been made possible through generous donations from the Inasmuch Foundation and former Union director Jan Marie Crawford, respectively.
The Scholars Walk and Asp Avenue reconstruction, beginning in winter 2013, will be the most high-impact project, with all South Oval vehicular traffic being permanently re-routed to Asp Avenue.
The current roadway will be converted to a walkway featuring 136 pavers honoring OU students who have earned prestigious undergraduate and graduate scholarships since the university’s founding. The Scholars Walk also will feature two statues of OU’s most distinguished faculty from the first and second 50-year eras of the university, respectively.
“The Scholars Walk will add enormously to the beauty of the South Oval,” OU President David Boren said. “It will also enhance the environment and student safety. Symbols are important, and one of the walk’s most important aspects will be to emphasize that the academic mission of the University comes first.”
Faculty Club renovations will include major updates to dining and kitchen areas, enabling better meeting spaces and an expansion of the club’s menu, and the regents changed the former name of “University Club” to Jan Marie and Richard J. Crawford Faculty Club in honor of the project’s donors.
“It will be a great place to build community among faculty with oustanding food service and will serve as an important new space on campus,” Boren said. “I’m very excited about these two gifts.”
In addition to these items, the regents also approved:
· A five-year printing services contract with The Norman Transcript to print the OU Daily.
· Honoring the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams, the men’s tennis team and the women’s golf team for athletic excellence during the 2011-2012 school year
· Cutting back on medical plan benefits for university retirees, in lieu of greater financial strains on the university.
· Selecting United Airlines of Houston as a provider of air charter services for the OU football team during their 2012 season.
· Department name changes, based upon evaluations from the most recent Academic Program Review: Department of Botany and Microbiology changed to Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, and Department of Zoology changed to Department of Biology