The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, October 04, 2016 9:59 am

Ivy Tech seeks $17.4 million for upgrade

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

Ivy Tech officials Monday unveiled plans for a $17.4 million building renovation that would create what amounts to a student services mall on its north campus in Fort Wayne.

Harshman Hall, built in 1965 as a children’s hospital on the grounds of the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center, would get the upgrades – if the Indiana Commission for Higher Education votes to send the project on to funding from the legislature, officials said before board members and guests toured the facility, described to them as mazelike and outdated.

Ivy Tech’s chancellor for the Northeast Region, Jerrilee Mosier, said the project is fourth on the funding priority list submitted to the commission by Ivy Tech campuses statewide.

Campus officials said they’ve been working on getting on that list for five or six years, but this is the first time they’ve been successful.

"We believe we’ve got a great proposal because we’re not building square-footage. We’re revising square footage," Mosier said, adding: "We believe it (the renovation) will impact every one of our students. That could be 8,000 a semester."

The plans for the renovated facility allow one-stop shopping for students seeking help with anything from express enrollment and tutoring to career development and paying their bill. Offices would be arranged on the first floor around a central courtyard, with mostly classroom space on the second floor.

Currently, student services such as tutoring and academic advising are scattered around the building, while offices of the registrar, financial aid officers and bursar are in a separate building on the North Campus, officials said. 

Mosier said students have found the narrow corridors and many turns in Harshman off-putting.

"The problem becomes, when students enter the building we have, there are various corridors. It’s a "Go down this hallway, turn left, turn right, third door on the right kind of thing," Mosier said.

"Just the first time of trying to find their way … becomes just another impediment."

In addition, many of the building’s classrooms are a less-than-optimum long and narrow shape, she said. Rest­rooms are inadequate, containing only a couple of stalls for each gender, and the original boiler is still being used, although it’s nearly impossible to get parts, Mosier said.

In the upgrade, an overhanging canopy would be removed and large windows installed on either side of the main entrance, updating a facade officials said gave the building a dated look and providing better energy efficiency.

Ultimately, services now in other buildings, including Carroll Hall, about 67,147 square feet, would be eliminated as services are moved, officials said. They said renovating instead of building new would save $6 million to $7 million. 

Harshman has about 92,200 square feet, of which about 74,500 square feet are usable. The proposed upgrades would join an upgraded bookstore. Construction would be phased in and offices moved while renovations are completed.

The project would have to be approved by the state legislature in the 2017-19 budget, which means construction would likely not begin before 2018. No project completion date has been set, officials said.

Other Ivy Tech projects up for funding consideration include the top priority, a $43.17 million renovation and addition project in Kokomo, and a $43 million renovation/addition and downtown new construction in Muncie.

A $20.4 million renovation and addition on the Columbus campus ranks just ahead of Fort Wayne’s project, and a nearly $14.8 million health-care building on the Sellersburg campus comes in at No. 5.

Commissioners vote on the projects individually, not as a group, local Ivy Tech officials said.

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