New Health Science building over budget

The first version of the new health sciences building was cut back due to increased construction costs.

The university is using money obtained from a tuition revenue bond, consisting of $58.4 million, to update the campus, a new health science building. Administrators set a budget for this project at $38 million with $2 million in reserves, for as need basis, making $40 million of that bond reserved for the new health science building.

Due to some set backs, the building is $1 to $2 million over budget according to Marilyn Fowle, vice president of administration and finance.

“It will probably be between $41 and $42 million,” said Fowle, regarding how much of the bond will be used for the new building.

According to James Johnston, provost and vice president of academic affairs, it is imporatnt the new building is used as an instrument to facilitate learning.

“Make this a campus building, number of classrooms that are state of the art that can have different seating arrangements, everything will be on wheels,” said Johnston.

At the board of regents meeting, on Nov. 9 and 10, issues of the building were brought up.

“There were a lot of questions and discussion at the Board meeting, and I loved that,” said Suzanne Shipley, university president. “I would rather have a Board that pushes me and each other.”

The biggest issue of the set back was the budget being over. According to Fowle, there will be significant savings on some of the other projects.

“I know on the ADA fire marshal we had some significant savings and so we are hoping we will get some savings on the other projects that can make up the difference,” said Fowle.

Part of the original building plans for the new health sciences building to be complete by March 2019.

Due to the budget being over has set some delays. The original date of occupancy was March 2019 but now according to Johnston the building will open summer of 19.

“With the challenges, there is a delay, but we are hoping to move forward with the groundwork,” Johnston said.

With the budget being over some changes were needed and according to Fowle the changes wont be noticable.

“For the most part, I think people aren’t going to notice the changes we are making they are pretty subtle but the building is still going to look pretty much like we originally designed it,” said Fowle.

According to Shipley, since this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, they are trying to be careful in how they go about in the redesigning phase.

“We just want to remember that this is a remarkable opportunity,” said Shipley. “So we’re taking caution and care when it comes to redesigning the building.”

According to Fowle, it will still be an 86 thousand square feet, four-story building as originally planned. Some of the changes are that instead of the original plan of having terracotta tile on the side they are thinking of having stucco, like what is on the sides of Legacy Hall.

“A lot of the changes are going to be behind the scenes that no one will really notice,” said Fowle. It’s just within the design and the construction.”

According to Shipley, they are asking for three to four different choices for a redesign to fit the budget.

“There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to something like this,” Shipley said.

Fowle said the functionality and the space will be the same as originally planned.

“Which is the most important thing obviously,” said Fowle about having the functionality and space the same as the original plans.

With the rise in the price, people have been affected. Not just those in on campus but those throughout Wichita Falls as well.

“This really sent a shockwave through the town, not just MSU,” said Shipley. “We aren’t the only ones in town who are trying to complete big construction projects.”

Additional reporting by Kara McIntyre.