Board of Trustees approve early plans for athletic facilities, West showers

Renovations for the West Campus bathrooms are proposed at the Board of Trustee’s Meeting in Rome Ballroom. Today the Board officially approved the renovations. (Bailey Wright/Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees passed resolutions expected to result in $46 million dollar renovations of athletic facilities, $1.9 million renovations of what it called the “gang showers” in West Campus Residence Halls, higher charges for non-students on sports tickets and a new contract with staff at its Wednesday morning meeting.

There has been a “real need on our campus to improve facilities to remain competitive,” university Chief Financial Officer Scott A. Jordan said.

The UConn Foundation expects to be able to raise $26 million for the project over the next five years, according to the resolution. Private philanthropy and increased ticket revenue are intended to cover the project, without using tuition, fees or state dollars.

West Campus Residence Hall bathrooms on Jan. 23, 2016, prior to their expected renovations which will begin in May 2016. (William Chan/The Daily Campus)

Prices for tickets at UConn athletics games are expected to rise between $1 and $5 for non-students over the next seven years, Jordan said. He added that UConn’s ticket prices have not increased since 2005.

The board endorsed the plan. Jordan said this will encourage further donations. The board will review the plan at multiple further stages in its development.

Judging from the photographs, this looks like a good idea.
— Thomas Kruger, board member

The board also approved plans to redesign West’s showers, which the resolution called “inadequate for today’s student needs.” The bathrooms will be renovated with LED lighting fixtures, new toilet stalls, plumbing fixtures and removal of all hazardous materials including the existing asbestos floor tiles.

“Judging from the photographs, this looks like a good idea,” board member Thomas Kruger said.

The showers have not been renovated since West’s construction in 1955. On-site construction is expected from May to August of this year.

The board approved a tentative collective bargaining agreement between university administration and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (commonly called “UCPEA”).

The agreement, as described in the resolution, will increase the length of UCPEA employees’ workweek over a two year period from the current 35 hours to 40 hours.

Most UCPEA employees already work “to the job” and effectively work over 40 hours per week already, according to UCPEA President Kathleen Sanner.

The showers have not been renovated since West’s construction in 1955.

It also updates the “antiquated” systems of job classification designed in the 1980s, Director of Faculty and Staff Labor Relations Michael J. Eagen said. He added that managers will have more discretion in awarding employees raises and bonuses based on merit.

Both parties described the negotiations as being cordial and effective.

“It was one of the most productive collective bargaining sessions that I’ve ever played a part in,” Eagen said.

West Campus Residence Hall bathrooms on Jan. 23, 2016, prior to their expected renovations which will begin in May 2016. (William Chan/The Daily Campus)

About seventy-five percent of UCPEA employees supported the agreement in a vote, Sanner said. She called the agreement “fair and progressive.”

Additionally, the board passed resolutions giving more autonomy to the university in hiring outside counsel, and another which gave more autonomy to the president in exercising power over university shareholdings in corporations and other business entities.

UConn Vice President and General Counsel Richard F. Orr called these resolutions “housekeeping.”

The library’s subscription to Wiley, a major provider of science journals, was approved.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 24, at 9:30 a.m.

Christopher McDermott is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.