The UI Board of Trustees signed off on several infrastructure improvements at its Dec. 2 meeting in Springfield, though not all of them were related to physical plant upgrades.
In addition to funding building renovations at the Urbana and Chicago campuses, trustees approved filling two high-profile administrative positions with full-time replacements and a third with an interim leader.
The board unanimously approved the appointments of: Susan M. Kies as secretary of the UI Board of Trustees and of the university effective Feb. 1; Dimitri T. Azar as the dean of the College of Medicine at the Chicago campus starting Dec. 16; and Bob Easter as the interim vice chancellor for research at Urbana starting Jan. 1.
Kies, an adjunct associate professor of internal medical and a clinical associate professor of pathology for the College of Medicine at Urbana, also has served as associate dean of academic affairs/curriculum management for the College of Medicine. She succeeds Michele Thompson, who is retiring after 21 years as secretary.
Azar, who formerly served as interim dean, also has served as the Billie Alex Field Chair, a professor and the head of the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences. He will continue to serve as a professor.
Easter retired in October after serving as interim chancellor of the Urbana campus and UI vice president. In September he was named dean emeritus of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and professor emeritus of animal sciences.
Trustees also approved several on-the-ground improvements, awarding engineering work to a Chicago firm for Assembly Hall renovations and increasing the size of a health center project at UIC.
AECOM will be called on to draft a construction-renovation plan for the 17,000-seat Assembly Hall, constructed in 1963. The renderings will be used to bolster a fundraising drive for its renovation.
"While the building was ahead of its time when it opened," said the board resolution, "significant changes in arena design have occurred over the past 48 years."
Potential improvements include lowering the hall's floor and adding guest suites, new bowl seating and new restrooms. New lighting, air conditioning and electrical systems also are planned, along with added concession space. Plans also will address design issues related to the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"This project will enhance amenities that will improve the experience for attendees and participants at events at the Assembly Hall," the resolution said.
Final plans will include cost breakdowns of the upgrades.
Trustees approved significantly expanding the Square Mile Health Center project in Chicago - from $12 million to $30 million - which will add three floors of renovated space for research and academic tenants.
The original project, funded with a $12 million federal grant, included a "build-out" clinical operation on the first floor and space on the second floor for dental care and administration.
The additional work includes three more floors of renovation work allowing build-out work as tenants sign on.
Trustee Timothy N. Koritz, chair of the University Healthcare System committee, said the projects were originally split into two phases.
"It's cheaper to build it at once now instead of in two stages," he said, adding that academic and research tenants would be sought for the upper floors.
Other projects gaining board approval included:
- The use of an energy service company to help capture upgrade costs from energy-saving renovations at the Oak Street Chiller Plant.
ESCO-eligible plans are typically designed to fund conservation upgrades over a 20-year period.
Energy conservation measures at the Oak Street plant could cost $11.5 million to install, and the board hired Siemens Industry Inc., of Mount Prospect, Ill., to manage the project at a cost of $11 million. Funds for the project will come from the institutional funds operating budget.
- A $70 million renovation of the Natural History Building, covering 148,000 gross square feet of instructional/research laboratory, classrooms and offices and other code required and energy efficient upgrades.
Board approval also included changes in the architect and engineer agreement, as well as the continuance of a contract with BLDD Architects, Champaign, for $2.8 million for consulting work.
University officials have been studying the scope of the work since 2010.
- The second phase of renovation work at the main Library, which was first approved in 2010.
The board selected Bloomington, Ill.,-based Johnston Contractors for $3 million to complete the work, which includes window replacement, reinforcement of brick chimneys, tuck-pointing and other brick work.
- A dentistry modernization and code compliance project, which had previously been approved by trustees but only recently had its $2.5 million in funding released by the state's Capital Development Board.
Trustees picked KJWW Engineering, of Naperville, Ill., as engineer/architect, with the firm's fees to be determined by the CDB.