Report: Many Missouri State Colleges in Disrepair

By Free Radical

Harris-Stowe State University will need $34 million to complete its most needed capital projects.

Harris-Stowe State University will need $34 million to complete its most needed capital projects.

A recently published report by the Missouri Department of Higher Education projected that the state’s public colleges and universities are in dire need of $1.4 billion in revenue to cover a range of deferred maintenance. The 26 campuses require basic repairs such as repaving sidewalks to more extensive improvements such as brand new computer systems and science laboratories.

“Literally, [there are] college classrooms for chemistry that were below the standards of their local high school, just because they didn’t have the ability to keep up,” said Jeff Barlow, an assistant commissioner of higher education, who led the review.

Public HBCUs in particular are in great need of physical plant upgrades. The report described the St. Louis based Harris-Stowe State University as “operating at full capacity.” Even though the college created a new dormitory just six years ago, it is at full capacity and some students have to be housed off campus. Harris-Stowe’s Dr. Henry Givens Administration building is where the lions‘ share of classes are held. The facility was built in 1925 and needs improvements in its science laboratories and auditorium which requires new wiring and electrical equipment.

Other buildings such as the older Vashon Center and the newer Innovation Center could alleviate the university’s space problems but they must first be renovated before they are put into use.

The college has identified three capital priorities: a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) building, a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and renovations to the Dr. Henry Givens Jr. building. Altogether, these projects will cost a total of $34 million.

Missouri’s other HBCU, Lincoln University, located in Jefferson City, also badly needs physical plant improvements. Despite its proximity to the state capital, it has received few political favors.

In 2015, former Governor Jay Nixon vetoed appropriations for a $2.8 million recreation center to balance the state budget. Two years later, $200,000 was withheld from a study to assess how the St. Mary’s Hospital building could be used by the university.

Lincoln also has a great need for space as many of its buildings such as Founders Hall and Elliff Hall cannot accommodate student demand.

The campus’s steam distribution systems, electrical, plumbing, and heating/cooling systems are also under major duress. Buildings show signs of water infiltration or structural damage from the chipped, flaking, and compromised paint.

Lincoln has identified its top three capital projects as campus wide renovations, a new science building, and a new academic building. These projects are collectively slated to cost $136 million.

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