Proposed renovations for Cohodas Hall, which were scheduled to occur last semester, have been postponed as expenditures across campus are reduced due to the economic recession.
The renovation project would have focused on the lobby of Cohodas Hall and included new lighting fixtures, a new tiered ceiling, drywall installations and new carpet to replace tile flooring.
“[The renovations] would have really brightened up the space,” said Kathy Richards, associate vice president of engineering/facilities at NMU.
Richards said that the renovations, which were mainly cosmetic, were scheduled to begin last winter but were delayed due to budget restraints.
“We’ve focused on other projects that are in more dire need of maintenance,” she said.
The projected $150,000 cost of the project would have come from differed maintenance and university reserves, said Gavin Leach, vice president for finance and administration at NMU. Differed maintenance and university reserves are funds that are used to maintain facilities on campus and to accommodate for unexpected costs, respectively. Leach said that even though the project has been pushed back for an indeterminate amount of time, Cohodas Hall will eventually be renovated.
“There are things that over time you have to attend to, and when they reach a certain level they have to be addressed,” said Leach.
As the tallest building on NMU’s campus, home to multiple academic departments and the location of the president’s office, Cohodas Hall is a very popular destination for visitors on campus. The renovations would have helped improve the look of the building, but were not necessary for the university, said Leach.
“This project was one that we felt should be done, but in the long run we felt that there were other projects that had priority over it,” he said.
Every year, the university must provide the state with a list of prioritized projects, said Leach.
“The state requests projects from us, asking ‘If there were to be state funding, what would our projects be?'” he said.
Currently, NMU’s priority projects, in order, are: the cogeneration plant, renovations to Jamrich Hall, renovations to the Learning Resource Center, maintenance to systems in the PEIF, McClintock building and the Forest Robert’s Theatre and renovations of Cohodas Hall.
Leach said that because the economic situation in Michigan is grim the chances of NMU being allocated capital outlay dollars, or funds for projects, are not very good. Leach also said that the university is looking at all of its projects and removing non-necessary ones.
“We are meeting all of the critical needs on the campus in terms of maintenance; we are monitoring all projects very closely right now,” said Leach.
Art Gischa, associate vice president of business and auxiliary services, said that the money that had been planned for the renovations is being diverted into projects which may save the university money in the future.
“Our focus is shifted to, ‘What can we invest in today that will yield operational savings tomorrow?'” he said.
Operational costs are expenditures made by the university to run the facilities, including but not limited to, heating, cooling and lighting. Gischa said the university may invest in new light bulbs which provide the same amount of light as older ones yet consume less electricity, making them less expensive to use.
“We are shifting our focus to reducing operational cost,” said Gischa. “The more we can do that, the less that we have to pass on to students in terms of tuition.”