Campus Revitalization

It was once said of renowned architect Daniel Burnham that his greatest influence may not have been what he built, but what he imagined. He urged us all to make no little plans, to think big. And that’s exactly what we are doing at EKU as we move forward with a bold and visionary campus renewal plan that will transform the way we learn, live and work together and even change the way others perceive us.

Plans continue to unfold for a variety of exciting projects, the cost for which will be covered by an innovative combination of public-private partnerships, private dollars, a recently approved student fee and University funds. Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.” Our destiny is in our hands.

It is indeed a great time to be a Colonel!


Parking Update from President Benson

Parking Garage Rendering

EKU is experiencing an incredible period of growth both in enrollment and physical facilities. Just two years ago we introduced a campus revitalization plan to launch the most comprehensive campus upgrades at Eastern in more than 50 years. The Center for Student Life is the signature element of the plan, consisting of new residence halls, a dining facility, renovated student center, new recreation center, the Carloftis Gardens, a Lancaster Avenue pedestrian gateway and EKU’s first parking garage, all at the heart of the Campus Beautiful. Most of the projects are nearing completion and will be open for the start of the fall 2017 semester. Additional projects are underway and are scheduled to be complete in 2018. Part of the transformation includes a pedestrian-friendly campus that leaves central areas open to foot traffic, routing vehicles to the perimeter of campus.

These improvements enhance the natural beauty of our campus and bolster safety for our students, faculty and staff. It also requires an adjustment to our driving and parking patterns. As we grow here at EKU, we know this has presented parking challenges, and I have heard your concerns. Parking concerns on a college campus are certainly not unique to EKU, but the extent of our campus improvements coupled with EKU’s record enrollment growth does present distinctive opportunities to better manage parking resources. I would like to provide a few updates on the strategic development of the 2017-18 parking plan for our University. 

  • With the opening of EKU’s first parking garage and the restoration of several lots offline during construction, there will be a net gain of campus parking spaces for 2017-18. We are also currently assessing possible lot additions along Summit Street. The exact number of new spaces and designated zones are still being determined, and there will be some new areas going offline due to the next phase of construction projects, but we are pleased to offer more parking options for the next academic year.
  • EKU Parking and Transportation Services will begin the transition to become an auxiliary service during the 2017-18 year. This means general University funds will not be used to fund the department and can be reallocated to other academic or student service needs. As an auxiliary unit the department will be able to self-fund needed parking lot maintenance, construction of new parking lots and the operation of the new parking garage. The transition plan is currently being developed, and we will communicate any changes to parking services as soon as those details are finalized. While we anticipate some adjustments to permit fees, we will work to limit the impact to our students, faculty and staff.
  • An ad hoc parking advisory group has been formed, led jointly by Lora Snider, Executive Director of University Business Services, and Robert Mullaney, Assistant Professor, Occupational Science & Therapy/co-chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee. This group held its first meeting last week to offer feedback on parking zone plans, permit pricing structure and the transition of the parking department to an auxiliary service.
  • The University and our Big E Transit partners at Kentucky River Foothills have purchased and are currently testing a mobile transportation app that will offer bus passengers real-time tracking of bus routes and schedules. This technology will be introduced for use this fall and will greatly assist in planning for arrivals and departures of Big E Transit buses serving EKU with routes both on and off campus. You will find current schedules at
  • Finally, to assist in these plans, all registered EKU parking permit holders are encouraged to participate in a campus parking and transportation survey. Please respond when you see the survey this week in your campus email or through EKU Direct. This is an important tool to assess parking patterns, preferences and challenges. You are invited to share your feedback through the survey, and we value your opinions.

It will take collaboration across campus departments to develop a comprehensive campus parking plan to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff and visitors. Just as the face of our campus is changing, we will also need to shift our campus culture to a proactive approach to parking. All of us should identify parking options in advance, and allow sufficient time to and from designated lots. Please keep that in mind as you are planning your schedule for the next semester. We will continue to provide updates on EKU parking and transportation services as the plans are completed to help you stay informed.


New Case Dining Hall Topping Off Ceremony


"Topping Out' Ceremony Held for Dining Hall

"Topping Out' Ceremony Held for Dining Hall

A central part of a college community’s life will soon be facilitated in the heart of the Eastern Kentucky University campus.

A “topping out”’ ceremony on Thursday, March 23, marked a milestone in the construction of a new dining hall at EKU. The three-story, 55,000-square foot facility is under construction on the site formerly occupied by the Case Hall and Annex and is expected to begin serving students, faculty, staff and visitors in January 2018.

The University and Aramark Educational Services LLC signed a $37 million agreement last year that called for the food services vendor to finance and construct the dining facility and provide dining services for the campus for the next 15 years. A recently enacted student fee will finance renovations to the adjacent Powell Building, current home of dining facilities, for use as a student union facility. The same fee will also finance a new recreation center nearby. The additions and renovations are all part of an ongoing campus revitalization initiative designed to transform the living and learning experience at EKU.

After members of the campus community signed a beam to be placed atop the new dining hall, EKU President Michael Benson addressed those gathered for the ceremonial occasion.

“The time was right ... and it all came together,” Benson said. “Aramark made an investment in EKU, and we made an investment in Aramark. This is an investment in our future and an investment in our students. We’re going to see new life coming to this part of campus.

“The food element is an integral component of a living-and-learning community. Think about the conversations that will happen around dining tables, the opportunities to engage. This is a great day, a maroon-letter day.”

Randy Brookshire, principal with Ross Tarrant Architects, which designed the facility, said the ceremony “means that progress is being made. This is the heart of campus, and I think it will be a real vibrant space.”

The first floor will feature retail food options, with the second floor hosting an all-you-can-eat main dining hall. Offices, small classrooms and a multipurpose room will be located on the top floor. The facility will also include private dining spaces that can be reserved for campus events.

The new dining hall will also feature an energy-efficient design and ample natural light with windows facing the adjacent Memorial Plaza, as well as easy access from several directions.

“Topping out” ceremonies date back to ancient societies, according to Paul Gannoe, associate vice president for facilities services and capital planning at EKU, who also spoke at the event. A similar ceremony was held across the street in August 2015 for phase 2 of the University’s New Science Building, which is now nearing completion. When both phases of joined, it will be the largest science facility on any campus in Kentucky.


Pedway, Turner Gate, Carloftis Garden & Martin

Aerial Footage of EKU Campus on Lancaster Avenue

Watch the Video on Twitter @EKUPrez


Update on Campus Revitalization

Update on Campus Revitalization

Eastern Scholar House, in partnership with Kentucky River Foothills and others, is expected to be completed in Summer 2017.

"Growth Happens Here" It was the theme of President Michael Benson’s back-to-school convocation message in August 2016, and it’s an impossible-to-miss reality for current and prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors in an era of rapid and transformational change at Eastern Kentucky University.

 As part of an ongoing effort to attract, retain and graduate more of the best and brightest students and provide a living and learning environment that matches the high quality of its academic programs and services, the University has embarked on the most ambitious campus revitalization program in the institution’s long and rich history.

 Within the past decade, Eastern has added the first phase of a New Science Building, a Center for the Arts, an adjacent apartment complex to its campus housing stock, the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, and a pedway across Lancaster Avenue, in addition to new signage and numerous cosmetic enhancements. But that was merely a foretaste of what’s to come in 2017 and beyond:

  • Phase 2 of the New Science Building is on track for completion the summer of 2017. The addition, which will house the departments of Biological Sciences and Geosciences, will give EKU the largest such facility on any college campus in Kentucky and help boost enrollment and success in the vitally important STEM disciplines.
  • Two new residence halls, both financed by a public-private partnership, are expected to open in time for the Fall 2017 semester. New Martin Hall, on the site of the former Martin Hall, and New Hall B, on Kit Carson Drive, will make on-campus living more appealing to current and prospective students, positively impacting enrollment and student success.
  • Construction of a new dining hall, financed by the campus dining vendor, Aramark Educational Services LLC as part of a 15-year agreement, is expected to open in January 2018. The hall is located between the Powell Building and Case Hall.
  • A new Eastern Scholar House, in partnership with Kentucky River Foothills and others, is expected to be completed in Summer 2017. Priority admission for the Scholar House program (apartments and childcare center) will be given to single parents, with dependent children, who are pursuing college degrees. All Scholar House residents will be required to participate in the program’s comprehensive supportive services. The Eastern Scholar House will be located on the former site of Brockton Apartments and near the current Fitness and Wellness Center.
  • A new 320-space parking garage adjacent to the Scholar House, part of the same public-private partnership that is financing the new residence halls, is expected to open in Summer 2017.
  • Carloftis Garden, near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Park Drive and also part of the residence hall public-private partnership, is expected to be complete in Summer 2017. The garden, bearing the name of a nationally known landscape designer Jon Carloftis, is adjacent to the new Turner Gate, an attractive new pedestrian entrance near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road. Craig Turner, chair of the EKU Board of Regents, and wife Madonna, both Eastern alumni, donated the funds for the manufacturing and installation of the gateway.
  • Planning is underway for both a renovated student union and a new student recreation and wellness center, both financed by a student special usage fee. Construction should begin on the fitness center in Fall 2017, with an expected completion date of Spring 2019. Renovations to the student union should begin in Spring 2019, with completion expected in 2020.
  • Completion of a second pedway, to traverse the Eastern By-Pass near Alumni Coliseum, is expected in Fall 2017, making for a better and safer connection between north and south campuses. The second pedway is also financed by the student special usage fee.
  • The New Earle Combs Stadium and New Gertrude Hood Stadium, improvements in baseball and softball facilities, will be ready during the spring seasons.
  • An expansion project on the east side of Roy Kidd Stadium, to be completed in time for the 2017 football season, will add to the fan experience as it will include more than 3,000 new bleacher seats and a concourse that will feature modern concessions and restrooms. The first floor will include new locker rooms, equipment room, game-day training area, and more. The athletics facility renovations and expansions are funded through agency bonds sold in 2015.
  • In partnership with Life Fitness, a dramatically expanded and renovated Strength and Conditioning Center will include a nutrition bar and serve all 17 varsity sports and more than 300 student-athletes.

“These improvements will transform the way members of the campus community learn, live and work together, and even change the way others perceive us,” Benson said.



Athletics Building Projects at

Athletics Building Projects at

Check out for updates on athletics facility projects currently underway and upcoming projects as well.

The new site features video and photos of three current major projects that are underway: the new Earle Combs Stadium, the new Gertrude Hood Stadium and the Roy Kidd Stadium east side expansion.

There is also a detailed description of the strength and conditioning center renovation.

In addition, features video interviews with student-athletes and university administration regarding the facility projects and what they mean to athletes and the university community.

The site also provides avenues for fans and alumni to support these projects.


Private Gifts Support Partnership for Weight Room Renovation

renovated weight room rendering

Eastern Kentucky University athletics has announced a partnership with Life Fitness to remodel the department’s weight room. With the support of Life Fitness and a private donation by Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel, the dramatically expanded and renovated first-class strength and conditioning facility will serve all 17 varsity sports and more than 300 student-athletes.

The renovation is expected to be completed near the start of the 2017 spring semester.

The new facility will feature Hammer Strength brand equipment from Life Fitness. Hammer Strength is rugged performance strength training equipment that takes what athletes dish out and helps exercisers get to where they strive to be. Hammer Strength moves the way the body is meant to move and rewards hard work with results. Results that elite athletes have been relying on for nearly three decades.

“This is going to be one of the premier facilities in the country,” EKU Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller said. “I really enjoyed working with Life Fitness to bring this to reality. The process of working through equipment selection and design with Life Fitness will bring to life a facility that will give EKU student-athletes a first-class strength and conditioning experience. We are excited to work with a company that has a long history of outfitting some of the finest athletics facilities in the country. With the help of Life Fitness, we fully expect our facility to rival any to date.”

The complete production process of Hammer Strength equipment is done at its facility in Falmouth, Kentucky, less than an hour and a half from the Eastern Kentucky University campus. EKU’s new weight room will be a showcase facility for Hammer Strength. The company will bring clients to campus to tour and demonstrate the equipment. Hammer Strength will also hold clinics at this showcase facility.

“The entire Hammer Strength team is thrilled to be a part of this national showcase facility located just down the road from Falmouth, Kentucky, the proud home of Hammer Strength for nearly 30 years,” said Hammer Strength National Athletics Manager Lon Record.

The project would not be possible without the generosity of Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel. The Noels, of Union, Kentucky, whose previous donations made possible the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and the Noel Reading Porch, have generously pledged an additional $1 million to EKU.

The majority of their gift will help establish the Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel Research Endowment, a $600,000 fund that will support faculty and student research at the University across a variety of academic areas and disciplines. In addition, $400,000 will be used for this strength and conditioning renovation. Mr. Noel played baseball for three years at Eastern.

The scope of the project is impressive. The facility will include 20 platforms, 20 racks, 720 pounds of weight per platform, black polyurethane bumpers, four bikes, two treadmills, two ellipticals, four jammers, four iso lunge machines, two leg presses and four vertical leg curl machines. The facility is expected to have 90 pairs of dumbbells, more than any other school in the nation. In addition, a 10-yard wide by 30-yard long artificial turf field will be housed inside the new weight room. This area will allow for warm-ups, sprints, agility training and polymetrics.

“It’s everything we want as far as the training aspect,” EKU Director of Strength and Conditioning Jon-Michael Davis said. “With the platforms, the bars and the machines, there’s nothing we won’t have through Hammer Strength. Every need is addressed. Whether it’s based upon a sport, based upon an injury or based on training maturity, we will have access to everything to help a student-athlete. The look is going to be really nice. There is definitely a wow factor which will aid in recruiting as well.”

The weight area will stand on Mondo flooring. The durable, anti-bacterial flooring will maintain a clean look. For added safety, the platforms will be part of the floor, meaning no stepping onto or off the platforms. The floor is soft enough to run on, but strong enough to withstand the impact of dropping weight. For further safety, water, sweat and spills will not seep into the flooring and can be wiped dry quickly.

“We will be able to train more efficiently,” said Davis. “We will have more area, which makes it easier for the student-athletes in regards to time. It gives us a place, all in one room, to get everything done. There’s no transition. The multi-purpose surface allows us to use the weight anywhere. We can get kids in and out quicker.”


New Commuter Parking Options Available

The new Vickers lot and the Ashland and lower Perkins lots on Kit Carson Drive are now open to both commuters and residential freshmen with Zone C or Zone Z parking permits.

Ride the Big E Transit Service from Vickers, Ashland or Stratton (across from the Perkins lot) with service available on the Maroon and Gray routes from 7:20 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. Evening Big E Transit Service is available from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Check full schedule and transit stop locations on the parking website.  


Gate Dream Come True for Turners

Turner Gate dedication photo

Craig and Madonna Turner cut the ribbon at dedication ceremonies for The Turner Gate, as members of his family look on. At right is Dr. Tom Martin, president of the EKU International Alumni Association. At left is Maribeth McBride Berman, chair of the EKU Foundation.

Passing motorists near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road may note the enhanced curb appeal along the western periphery of campus.

But, for future generations of Eastern Kentucky University students, beginning with this fall’s freshman class, The Turner Gate will come to symbolize the life-changing significance of their Eastern Experience.

The University’s newest landmark, formally dedicated in ceremonies on Wednesday, Aug. 17, is distinguished by four simple but profound words – Wisdom and Knowledge on one side facing the street, Purpose and Passion on the other – that describe what students come seeking and what they acquire during their studies to use for the betterment of society.

“These four words epitomize how Eastern can properly prepare our students and also instill in each of them the desire to attain greatness in their life endeavors,” said Craig Turner, chair of EKU Board of Regents, who with wife Madonna donated the funds for the manufacturing and installation of the gateway. “Our goal is to continue to raise the bar for our students to excel here like no other place. These gates symbolize a new beginning as you enter, and a bright future as you exit.”

Both Turners graduated from EKU in 1975 and have long thought that new students, parents and visitors had trouble finding an “entrance” to the Richmond campus. “There was no defining feature other than a small Eastern Kentucky University sign,” Mr. Turner said. “As we returned to campus over the years, we often talked about the need for an entrance to campus that could also be a gathering place for students to celebrate special occasions or events.”

That is already happening. It’s not uncommon even now to see gatherings at the location, a sight that delights EKU President Benson.

“Turner Gate has become a focal point for photographs, a hangout for students, and a handsome entrance into our campus,” Benson said. “I pass the Gate every single day on my way to EKU, and I take enormous satisfaction that the extended Turner family name is inextricably linked to Eastern for generations to come.”

Benson, beginning his fourth year at EKU, said he hopes the Welcome Walk, when each year’s freshman class passes through Turner Gate to the cheers of onlooking faculty and staff, becomes a campus tradition, much like rubbing Daniel Boone’s toe on another campus landmark for good luck. The first such walk, shortly after the dedication ceremonies, featured faculty and staff lining the route offering their support and encouragement to more than 2,000 freshmen who moved into their new campus home earlier in the day.

The taller columns stand 16 feet tall, the shorter columns just under 14 feet. They are made of Indiana limestone and erected by Mason Structure of Lexington. The property is also graced by shumard oaks, a hearty native species that turns a vivid maroon – naturally – each autumn; tulip poplars, the state tree; and dwarf oak hydrangeas.

“When our daughters were looking at colleges, we realized that nearly every campus had a lovely and welcoming entrance,” Mrs. Turner said. “In addition, many had a sculpture, gate or other defining feature that was popular with students. This entrance gave an opportunity to put ‘Eastern Kentucky University’ literally on the campus map. Having the (soon-to-come) Carloftis Gardens just inside the entrance was icing on the cake.”

The Turners wanted a gateway into the campus “that equaled the beauty of the existing buildings. We envisioned it an area where students could take their special occasion photos for events like graduation or Homecoming, as well as candid photos of teams, clubs, friends and family,” Mrs. Turner said. “Perhaps we will see a few marriage proposals and wedding photos in the future. We’ve been delighted with the number of social media photos that have already been posted.”

Craig and Madonna Turner were joined at the dedication ceremony by family members, including many who also earned degrees from Eastern. Their names are inscribed on a plaque that will be placed at the Gate. A second plaque reads:

            “Enter these gates with humility.

            Acquire knowledge to gain wisdom.

            Depart these gates with confidence.

            Live life with passion and purpose.”

Dedicated to the students of Eastern Kentucky University
Craig and Madonna Turner Charitable Fund


"Growth Happens Here"

President Benson speaking photo

“Growth Happens Here.”

It was the theme for the faculty and staff fall convocation at Eastern Kentucky University on Tuesday, Aug. 16, but no one had to attend the annual event to know that.

The signs are evident any direction you look on the Richmond campus:

  • continued construction of the second phase of the University’s New Science Building. When joined to the first phase, the facility will be the largest of its type in the Commonwealth when it opens in January 2018.
  • two new residence halls slated to open in Fall 2017.
  • a new dining hall scheduled for completion in late 2017.
  • a Scholar House, a residential facility for single parents, set to open in the summer of 2017. The facility is funded primarily by the Kentucky Housing Corporation and will be managed by Kentucky River Foothills.
  • a new pedestrian gateway, Turner Gate, and adjacent Carloftis Gardens near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road.
  • improvements to baseball and softball facilities.

Add to that plans to build a parking garage, renovate the Powell Student Union, build a new recreation center, construct a pedestrian bridge (architect's rendering below) across the Eastern By-Pass near Keene Hall and Alumni Coliseum, and more. Little wonder that the most common word heard from President Michael Benson at the convocation was “excited.”