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!


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.”


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.


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

Partner Announced for New Housing Development

After a rigorous search process that elicited responses from several national firms, Eastern Kentucky University has issued a letter of intent to award the development of its new student housing projects between  F2 Companies of Columbus, Ohio, and Grand Campus Properties of Richmond, Kentucky. This is the first public-private partnership (P3) project for the University.

“The proposal we selected includes all the elements we sought, plus some value added components that will transform our campus now and well into the future," said Dr. Laurie Carter, EKU Executive Vice President and General Counsel.

The winning proposal includes more than 1,100 beds on the sites of Martin Hall and the current Brockton Block on Kit Carson Drive.  It is anticipated that both new halls, totaling $75 million in new construction, will be completed in time for occupancy in Fall 2017.

“These new facilities will change the face of our university forever,” said EKU President Michael Benson.  “Additions such as these new residence halls are part of our revitalization program which is totally focused on improving and enhancing the student experience.”