Trustees vote to move forward with Landon Hall renovations, portions of FRIB project

On Friday morning at its monthly meeting, the MSU Board of Trustees authorized plans to move forward on a few university projects, including construction on Landon Hall and the Union, and plans to further the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, project.

The trustees unanimously approved the proposed plans for each of the multimillion-dollar projects.
The $17.6 million Landon Hall renovation project is slated to start construction in May 2013 and consists of plans to renovate the dining hall and other facets of the building, including new elevators and safety systems, such as fire alarms and a fire suppression system throughout the building.

At the meeting, Vennie Gore, MSU assistant vice president for Residential and Hospitality Services, said while Landon Hall is under construction, the building will be listed as “offline.”

It is scheduled to reopen in June 2014, and the entire construction project is set to be finished by July 2015.

Gore said the new dining hall would increase the number of people served by about 120, putting it on par with other dining halls across campus.

Also approved to proceed at the meeting was the Union’s expansion of the North Neighborhood Engagement Center and the Multicultural Center, or MCC, in the Union.

Construction is slated to begin in April 2013, according to the meeting agenda.

The new MCC is slated to be moved from the basement to the second floor of the Union. It is expected to have more space for student groups to gather, according to the meeting agenda.

Plans call for it to operate in conjunction with the engagement center, providing students with access to advisers and workspaces.

“We’re using space for transformational ideas that will take us into the 21st century,” Denise Maybank, MSU’s vice president for Student Affairs and Services, said. “Both in terms of how students come together and unify around the things they are concerned about, but also think about what it means in terms of … their academic success.”

This particular project has been a big issue for student groups wanting to extend the university’s inclusion efforts.

“It’s a great thing to see, because I think a lot of students, in general, might have a negative view of the board to change things or approving (new policies),” said Luis Miguel Zarco, co-chair of Culturas de las Razas Unidas, a Latino student organization. “… They were willing to proceed, and the expansion of the Multicultural Center is something that benefits students and MSU.”

The board also approved plans for the university to spend $26 milion for FRIB’s next step toward completion.

According to the meeting agenda, FRIB’s current electrical cables from the T.B. Simon Power Plant will not support the facility’s future power needs.

The plan would implement an “encased duct bank” from the power plant to FRIB that would have the capacity to transmit up to 25 megawatts of power.

“FRIB is not something you can plug into your wall socket in your house,” MSU Vice President for Finance and Operations Fred Poston said, chuckling during the meeting. “It takes a lot to support.”

This new duct bank also would facilitate some of MSU’s future power needs, and is a critical component in the FRIB project, according to the meeting agenda.

This is another piece in the project’s puzzle for completion. The entire cost of the FRIB project is $680 million, and it is supported by state and federal funds, specifically from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“It’s easy for students and faculty to see things as competitive, so the funding for Landon Hall and the funding for the Union building come out of Residential Hospitality Services, (and) the funding for FRIB comes from a different source of funds,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “It’s all part of managing a complex university.”

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