Task force created for campus renewal project

Posted on 10 October 2017 by Ian Schrauth

Campus Facility Committee to address problem of “aging campus”


By: Stephen Buechter
Staff Writer


A new task force is being created to help solve the issue of Meramec’s deteriorating campus. According to Provost Carol Lupardus, the Campus Facility Committee will identify and establish priorities for annual improvements at each STLCC campus as it relates to aesthetics, structure, environmental or programmatic changes or additions.

“Dr. Pittman has charged three of the campuses—the aging campuses, as he says—to review a study,” said Lupardus. “The architects came around and did a study and mentioned priorities… And so he wants us to revisit that, and consider creating a budget for what needs to be done, identify and develop plans to address environmental concerns that may exist at each campus.”

Environmental concerns include the asbestos which has resulted in condemnation of many classrooms in several Meramec buildings. Additional repairs include the circled cracks across campus sidewalks. According to Lupardus, this was done by John Schneider, Meramec’s environmental health and safety specialist from risk management who regularly visits the campus to identify potential dangers.

“You may have noticed they’re all orange or yellow or green paint, circling areas that are areas of concern in terms of safety hazards,” said Lupardus. “Hopefully the facilities committee will be reviewing all those and prioritizing, because it all takes time and of  course money.”

Roofing is another part of the school in need of repair, which Lupardus addressed in a Sept. 28 email to faculty and staff. The email referenced the closures of several rooms in Communications North closed due to water damage.

“We have not had a major rainfall since the leaks were patched and we do not want anyone to move back into these rooms only to be moved out again if the patches do not hold,” said Lupardus in the email. “The engineering and design department is working with the roofing warranty company to provide a more permanent repair to the roof system which will require additional roof work on the building, projected to be completed this Fall. It is not anticipated that this work will cause disruption to classroom usage.”

Another email, sent Oct. 6, announced a week-long project to replace part of the Science West roof.7

Meramec theater professor Keith Oliver was informed Sept. 28 that he might not be able to debut his play in the theater on Oct. 4 after the engineering department condemned the grid and fly system, which is used for lighting. Oliver said he didn’t know whether or not his cast would be able to perform on the stage where they had rehearsed until the Monday before the show started.

“Fortunately, we were able to get a crew in,” said Oliver.  “They’ve secured the batons, which are the pipes that hold all the really heavy electric equipment, lighting instruments, from falling down.”

Oliver described the lighting situation as “an ongoing problem”, and said that in the past, his crew needed to use a cherry picker to go up to the lights and move them around.

According to Oliver, the state is also partly responsible for the state of the campus.

“We’ve had an incredible amount of unfair cuts directed towards community college, which in its very nature helps educate a wide region for the 21st century,” said Oliver. “A community college that does not charge much for tuition, and has older facilities, it would hurt them doubly hard, right?”

Oliver said that while he appreciated the immediate response to his “crisis situation”, praising in particular the chair, the dean and the provost, he also advises students to ask where funds budgeted for repairs are going.

“I have not personally seen a budget of where all the money is and what it’s about.  A complete budget, where I really know for expenditures – what the bottom line is, how much money the college really has.  Then, how are we going to use this money?” said Oliver. ”I’m not sure I’ve heard answers to those questions. At least not ones that satisfy.”

Lupardus said that involving students in the repair process is “critical” and that she hopes the committee will find a way to do so.

Lupardus herself will head the Campus Facility Committee with co-chair Dean of Students Kim Fitzgerald. Other members of the committee include Facilities Manager Sam Guth, Theater Manager Rick Willmore and Director of Campus Life Carolyn O’Laughlin.


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