Register Staff Report
The two-year state budget that Gov. Steve Beshear presented to the General Assembly on Tuesday night includes $66.3 million to complete Eastern Kentucky University’s New Science Building.
The structure’s first phase, costing $64 million, opened in January 2012, but the remainder has awaited funding.
The budget also includes $15 million to renovate and improve athletic facilities and $12 million to build a parking structure, according to information released Tuesday night by the governor’s office.
However, funding the governor’s proposals is up to the General Assembly.
On Wednesday, EKU President Michael Benson expressed his gratitude to Beshear and local legislators.
“Thanks to support from Governor Beshear, Eastern Kentucky University will be positioned better than ever to recruit and graduate more students into the STEM disciplines once the second phase of our new Science Building is constructed, should the General Assembly approve his budget,” Benson said.
“The (Science Building’s) second phase is Eastern’s top capital project. Since the first phase opened in January 2012, the new Science Building, with its advanced equipment and modern facilities, has attracted undergraduate and graduate students from across Kentucky and beyond to be taught and mentored by an outstanding faculty and staff,” the president added. “Student achievement is up. Absenteeism is down. Faculty collaboration and scholarship are up. And instructor evaluations have improved.
“I am certain that once the second phase has been constructed, EKU will become a regional, if not national, leader in science education and research,” he said.
“We could not have reached this point to be included in the Governor's Budget had it not been for the outstanding assistance from Rep. Rita Smart (D-Richmond) and Sen. Jared Carpenter (R-Berea). They have been instrumental in our efforts to seek the $66 million funding for this next phase, as well as with the funds to renovate and improve our athletic facilities and to construct a parking structure near the Powell Building, our student center,” Benson continued.
“Should these capital improvements be realized at EKU, this means a $93 million investment has been made for the betterment of central and southeastern Kentucky. This is great both for Madison County and all our citizens,” he concluded.