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!


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.”


Aramark to Finance, Build New Dining Hall

Architect's rendering of new dining hall: the view from University Drive

Eastern Kentucky University and Aramark Educational Services LLC have reached a $37 million agreement by which the food services vendor will finance and construct a dining facility on the Richmond campus and provide food services for the campus for the next 15 years.

The three-story, 55,000-square-foot facility will be built on the site now occupied by Case Hall and Annex, scheduled for razing this summer. Construction is expected to begin this fall and be substantially complete in December 2017. A recently enacted student fee will finance renovations to the nearby Powell Building, current home of dining facilities, for use as a student union facility.

The contract stipulates that Aramark will dedicate $32,350,000 to the Case demolition and subsequent dining hall construction, $2.2 million to a Steak ’n Shake and Starbucks in the newly renovated Powell Building, and $2.45 million to dining “refreshes” to other existing campus locations, including the Stratton Café, concessions and convenience kiosks. Additional returns to the University include annual brand refresh funding ($3 million over the term of the agreement), annual repair and maintenance ($2.8 million), annual catering fund totaling $525,000, and an annual scholarship fund totaling $300,000.

“This agreement with Aramark, coupled with our P-3 housing projects, represent investments from private partnerships of $112 million,” EKU President Michael Benson noted. “These entities are confident in the direction EKU is heading and in the financial stability of the University despite the challenges we face in terms of state funding. This is truly a maroon-letter day for EKU.”

Aramark also committed to use Kentucky Proud Program vendors and other local suppliers and vendors when financially feasible, and work with the EKU Office of Sustainability to provide a percentage of Kentucky Proud spending and a list of current vendors at the end of each semester, at which time goals for the following year will be set.

In addition to an 800-seat main dining hall on the second floor, numerous retail dining options along with seating for 500 will be available on the first floor. The third floor will feature a multipurpose room, small classrooms and offices. The facility will also include private dining spaces that can be reserved for campus events.

The new facility will feature an energy-efficient design and ample natural light with windows facing the adjacent Memorial Plaza, as well as easy access from several directions. “North Green,” an open green space, will be located behind the hall.

In the next few years, a new recreation center, financed by the same student fee financing the Powell renovations, will be built on the current site of Todd and Dupree Halls, “so there will be a real synergy with all of this student-centric space,” said Paul Gannoe, director of capital construction and project administration.


Construction Continues on P3-Funded Housing

Rendering of New Martin Hall

Construction of two residence halls is underway at Eastern Kentucky University to provide new student housing options in fall 2017. Once complete, the new Martin and Brockton Halls, funded through a public-private partnership (P3), will offer a total of 1,096 beds in suite-style rooms.

“Amidst this period of decreased state funding, innovative partnerships afford us the opportunity to provide quality student housing that will improve the living and learning environment,” said EKU President Michael Benson. “We will not let the student experience suffer. It has been five decades since EKU has seen this kind of growth, and these improvements are long overdue. Although the campus landscape is changing, a whole new generation of students will find the same welcoming and supportive community our alumni know and love.”

EKU officials note that no state appropriations or tuition revenue are used to finance the construction. The University provides the ground lease and will own, manage and maintain the buildings.

The average age of EKU’s buildings is nearly 50 years, and the new residence halls replace housing with a combined age of 111 years. Updated facilities will reduce maintenance and utility costs to the University while offering students modern amenities and conveniences. Standard suites will feature adjoining bathrooms, and shared living and kitchen spaces are offered within the “super suites”. Each floor includes study and programming areas, with kitchens and laundry facilities on every other floor. Both residence halls also provide classroom space, computer labs and rec rooms, as well as social spaces in the building lobbies.  

“A vibrant campus provides more than just basic living structures for students,” said EKU Board of Regents Chair Craig Turner. “The public-private partnership is the perfect mechanism to meet the needs of higher education while utilizing the expertise of the private sector to implement a development plan that allows the University to continue to meet student needs and enhance the learning experience at EKU.”

In addition to new housing, the cooperative venture between F2 Companies, LLC, and Grand Campus Properties, LLC, includes creation of the Carloftis Gardens by famed landscape designer and Kentucky native, Jon Carloftis. To help meet growing parking demand, the project also includes plans being developed for EKU’s first parking garage. The approximately 350-space structure will be located in the Brockton Commuter lot.

“These projects will bolster student life in many ways,” said EKU Executive Vice President and University Counsel Laurie Carter. “We strive to create spaces that will foster academic achievement and strengthen important social interaction. Whether students are studying in small groups in the collaborative learning spaces or relaxing on the beautiful campus grounds these enhancements offer great opportunities to shape our campus community and put students on a path to success.”

The Kentucky legislature, in its 2014 budget, authorized $75 million for EKU’s P3 endeavor. The development team includes Municipal Acquisitions, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate company that invests exclusively in the public sector real estate market, and Kentucky-based EOP Architects and D.W. Wilburn Inc.

“We have found creative ways to continue the momentum of growing enrollment, nationally recognized academic programs, exceptional faculty and staff and the first campus revitalization since the 1960s,” said Benson. “It is a great time to be a Colonel.”


Public Private Partnership Announcement

image of EKU sign

Eastern Kentucky University selected F2/GC, LLC, a cooperative venture between F2 Companies, LLC and Grand Campus Properties, LLC, to serve as developer for its first ever public-private partnership.

In support of this new avenue of financing, the Kentucky legislature, in its 2014 budget, authorized $75 million for EKU’s endeavor. After an extensive competitive bidding process, the Student Housing Developer Request for Proposal (RFP) Committee unanimously recommended that the University select the F2/Grand Campus partnership as its new student housing contractor because of the appealing financing terms, the extensive value-added components and the quality of the construction.

The public-private partnership will enable Eastern to add two new residence halls on its Richmond campus. In addition, as a value-added component to the winning F2/Grand Campus bid, the University, through restructuring the current lease for the 16-acre student housing complex known as Grand Campus, will receive title from Municipal Acquisitions to the land and assets of the Grand Campus facility, as well as a pedestrian bridge connecting Grand Campus to the University.

Capitalizing on the current interest rate and market conditions, the value-added restructuring of Grand Campus offered by F2/Grand Campus was completed this week. An additional value-added component will be the construction of the Carloftis Gardens and EKU’s first parking garage. 

The two new residence halls represent the second transaction, and the final documents will be executed at a later date. The second transaction will close out the RFP process. In order to meet the projected delivery date for occupancy in fall 2017, F2/Grand Campus has agreed to start construction on the new residence halls in advance of a finalized contract. 

At a time that the level of state appropriations for higher education is a hotly debated topic, EKU officials note that no state appropriations are used in the public-private partnership. The University provides the ground lease and will own, manage and maintain the buildings. Additionally, operating expenses and management fees will flow to the University in this financing structure.

“Gov. Matt Bevin has challenged us to be creative in financing new projects, and that is exactly what we’re doing here,” said EKU President Michael Benson. “These new facilities will change the face of our University forever. Such additions are an important part of our revitalization efforts, which are totally focused on enhancing the student experience.”

EKU Executive Vice President and University Counsel Laurie Carter said the partners were chosen because of “the quality of construction, the length of the lease, the University ownership of title, and their ability to meet the aggressive timeline.

Michael Fite, on behalf of F2/GC, LLC, said: “We are very excited to partner with Eastern Kentucky University for this unique project that will have a substantial impact on the University community. We have put together an impressive team and have worked proactively with the University to make sure this project will fill the needs of Eastern students for years to come.” 

The development team includes Municipal Acquisitions, a Washington, D.C. based real estate company that invests exclusively in the public sector real estate market, and has significant experience with higher education public-private partnerships. “The involvement of Jon Kling and his team at Municipal Acquisitions was crucial for the success of this project,” added Fite. Other development team members include Kentucky-based EOP Architects and D.W. Wilburn Inc.

One of the new halls will replace the recently razed Martin Hall, built in 1961, near the intersection of Lancaster and Park Drive. The Carloftis Gardens, to be designed by noted landscape designer Jon Carloftis, will serve as an entranceway into the new Martin Hall and enhance the curb appeal of the campus, especially along Lancaster Avenue. The new Brockton Hall will be constructed on Kit Carson Drive on the site of the former Brockton Apartments near the University’s New Hall. When New Hall opened in 2013, it was the University’s first new residence hall in more than 45 years. The addition of new Brockton and new Martin replace residential housing with a combined age of 111 years. Both new halls, totaling more than 1,110 beds, are expected to open by Fall 2017. The two new suite-style residence halls will each feature recreational space, study rooms, community kitchens and a classroom to be used for credit courses, as well as a variety of enrichment programs. In fact, one faculty member will reside in each hall, providing a stronger connection between academics and the University’s residential life program.

“We want, with our residence halls, to provide an optimal environment for students’ education,” said April Barnes, assistant dean of students. “The college student is looking for a campus that’s investing in them and their future.” Nationally, such investments result in higher retention and graduation rates. “It will also permit us to attract more of the best-and-brightest students,” Carter said. “Students have options. They consider academic programs, of course, but they also look at facilities.”

While the facilities will certainly offer students more modern amenities than some of the University’s aging residence halls, EKU has kept its students in mind and remained focused on the price point during the design and construction phase. “We’re not talking luxurious amenities in the new halls,” Barnes noted. “Our goal is simply to provide students with quality housing.”

“The City of Richmond is excited to see EKU add new residence halls to the campus, which in return will attract new students,” said Mayor Jim Barnes. “All the progress being made to the campus will ensure growth and continued success to EKU and our community.”

New residence halls are only a portion of $160 million in renovations and additions at EKU. Also in progress or in planning stages are a renovated student union and new recreation and wellness center, both financed by a student fee approved last year; a new dining facility, financed by the campus food vendor; and athletic facility renovations and additions, financed by private funds and a University bond issue; among other projects.

“We will remain undeterred in our ambitious revitalization of campus,” Benson said.


Lane Closure & Power Outage

Beginning at 8:00 AM on Monday March 14, 2016, the turn lane at Kit Carson & Park Drive will be closed in order for a crane to lift a transformer into the penthouse on the Wallace Building. This work should only take approximately 3 - 4 hours.
On Tuesday March 15, 2016, the Wallace building will be without power for the entire day. Please plan accordingly.

Campus Parking Update and Gift Card Incentive

As we work to improve our living and learning facilities, the construction on campus does require significant adjustments to parking areas. We continually ask for your patience and understanding in this period of growth for the Campus Beautiful.  Meeting the need for parking is a priority in the campus master plan and as that process is completed we will be able to share details on additional parking options.
To address the immediate parking concerns we are implementing some new measures and also want to remind you of existing resources and services for parking and campus safety. 
  • Gift Card and Parking Incentive – Beginning Monday, February 29, EKU Parking Services will offer a special free permit for parking in a designated area of the Lancaster Lot and Ashland lot for 100 residential students. This option is encouraged for residential students who do not need frequent access to their vehicles during the week. A limit of 100 spaces and permits will be available, and the program will be administered on a first come, first served basis by the Office of Parking and Transportation located in Mattox Hall, Suite A.  Students who choose to participate will exchange their current residential parking permit for a free Lancaster/Ashland lot purple permit. Participants will also receive a $20 Walmart gift card. Furthermore, by exchanging your current residential permit, anyone receiving the new free purple permit will also obtain a credit for a freeresidential permit (or $60 student account credit) for the Fall 2016-Spring 2017 year. Please note: The new purple permit will ONLY allow access to the designated area in the Lancaster Lot and the Ashland Lot. Parking in other lots is prohibited and will result in ticketing. This program applies to enrolled residential students, but excludes Grand Campus residents due to Grand Campus’ proximity to the Lancaster Lot. While there is shuttle service to the Ashland Lot (see link to full shuttle schedules below), there is currently no shuttle service to the Lancaster Lot.
  • New Loading/Unloading Zones – To assist residents who are carrying items into residence halls, new loading/unloading zones have been added in front of the New Hall and Greek Towers. More loading/unloading areas will be added to additional residence halls in the near future.
  • Campus Shuttle Service – We remind all students that multiple shuttle routes are available both during peak daytime hours and the evening to transport students from remote parking areas to central campus areas. You can find the full shuttle schedules at As we continue to improve campus parking and transportation options we will assess the accuracy of shuttle operations and are committed to ensuring the schedule is reliable.
  • Campus Safety Escorts – Students or employees concerned for their safety while walking to and from parking lots are encouraged to use the safety walking escort service. You can call for assistance from any of the blue phones located throughout campus, by calling EKU Police at 622-1111 or by installing and using the LiveSafe app on your phone. Learn more about LiveSafe and the many tools and services it offers the campus community here.
This will be a period of transition for the entire campus but we will continuously work to address your concerns and keep your safety in mind as we look to expand and enhance our vibrant campus community.

Case Hall and Case Annex Update

Dear Campus Colleagues:
As our campus landscape continues to change and improve, I would like to address questions relative to Case Hall and Case Annex, our plans for these structures, and their proposed timeline.  I hope the following information is helpful, and I encourage you to contact me with any additional questions or concerns.
Within the next few weeks, we will be finalizing our campus master plan with HEWV – the architectural firm hired to help with the process.  Once these plans are completed, we will utilize the campus master plan as a guide over the coming years and implement suggested plans as we can. Among the recommendations from HEWV are new traffic patterns throughout campus, additional parking, and a much more pedestrian-friendly environment across EKU.  Again, we will undertake those projects which are doable and affordable in the coming months and years. 
As it relates to Case and Case Annex, our intention is to vacate both structures at the conclusion of this Spring Semester.  Students will relocate into other residence halls.  Appropriate spaces for faculty and staff have been identified within McCreary and Mattox Halls and in the basement of the University Building.  Over the next few weeks, we will prepare these spaces in time for EKU employees to move in and make them their own during the summer months before Fall semester 2016 begins.  As you can appreciate, there are countless moving parts with many impacted individuals and timing will be critical.  We ask for your patience and cooperation as we move forward with efforts to make EKU a better place for everyone. 
Once Case and Case Annex are vacated, they will be razed.  The site will then be prepped for a new dining facility to be constructed by our food vendor.  As plans finalize, we will release the images and plans of this facility – sure to be one of the finest in Kentucky – which will provide our campus with exceptional services and food options.  The finished product will breathe new life into the center of campus.  We will continue to utilize the Powell Building for food service but once our new dining facility is completed during the Fall Semester 2017, Powell will be vacated so that its renovation can commence. 
Despite the challenges we are facing with our proposed state budget, it is an exciting time to be at EKU. I thank you for your continued service and commitment.
Yours sincerely,
Michael T. Benson

Parking Update

As construction progresses as part of the EKU Campus Revitalization Plan, the Madison and upper Brockton residential lots will close beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 19. Additional parking areas are available for residents in the Brockton Lot behind the New Science Building, Existing residential parking in the area also includes the Kit Carson and Telford lots. Residents who do not need daily access to vehicles are encouraged to consider parking options in the Ashland or Perkins lot with shuttle service to central campus areas. You will find an updated parking map and shuttle information below. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we continue to improve campus housing options and enhance the Campus Beautiful.

Download high resolution version [1.17MB PDF]


Campus Parking Update and Changes for February 7, 2016

Dear Campus:
Over the weekend, construction fencing was erected around Martin Hall and around the Martin and Keith parking lots.  Given the needs for ingress and egress for demolition and construction machinery and workers – and the narrowness of the exit onto Lancaster Avenue -- it has become necessary to close the Keith Lot.  However, additional accessible spaces will be provided along University Drive as noted in the map below.  Please note these changes.
Temporary signage has been placed to reserve these spaces along University Drive and permanent spots will be established in the next few days.
Please plan accordingly as you make your way to campus tomorrow.  Proximate parking to some buildings has been removed so that these improvement projects can move forward.  We very much appreciate your patience throughout this process as we endeavor to continually enhance the living and learnings spaces at EKU.
Yours sincerely,
Michael T. Benson
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