Board of Trustees committees approve new ZTA house, updates to UA Student Handbook

Andy McWhorter, Katie Shephard

The UA Board of Trustees Physical Properties Committee unanimously approved a plan to demolish Zeta Tau Alpha and Gamma Phi Beta’s sorority houses on Magnolia Drive in order to allow space for ZTA’s new 40,000 square foot house in their meeting Thursday.

Gamma Phi Beta will move to their new location on Paul W. Bryant Drive, leaving the old house empty. ZTA plans to demolish both their existing house and the adjacent Gamma Phi Beta house in order to construct a larger house on the lot. The projected budget for the construction is $13,892,375, and will be funded by a loan from the University to the ZTA chapter.

Additionally, the committee agreed to approve the demolition of parts of the Peter Bryce Campus Building in order to improve the appearance of the property and to make room for a New Academic Classroom project. Mike Lanier, project manager for HOAR Construction, requested a budget increase from $3,807,344 to $4,479,944 for the project in order to remove the outermost sections of the east and west wings of the building, as well as the 1948 additions to the front of the middle wings of the main building. The committee unanimously approved the revision, thus granting permission for the project to move forward.

The New Academic Classroom Project will be built on the intersection of Hackberry Lane and the future Peter Bryce Boulevard, on the property of the Peter Bryce Campus Building. When constructed, the new development will be 83,798 gross square feet. According to UA President Judy Bonner, it will be a multi-purpose building, and will feature many large classrooms.

“This will be a general university classroom building” Bonner said.

Lanier said $2.2 million of the nearly $3.2 million budget for this project will be allotted for furniture, fixtures and equipment. The classrooms in the new building will feature specially-constructed fixed tables and chairs instead of loose furniture, he said.

Though the construction of the new Sewell-Thomas Stadium is already underway, Lanier requested that the budget for the project be increased from $35 million to $42,632,920, almost a 22 percent increase. The project will be funded by gifts, the Crimson Tide Foundation and Intercollegiate Athletic Funds in the amount of $27,632,920 and 2014 General Revenue Bonds in the amount of $15 million.

The committee also unanimously approved the construction of a Starbucks on Paul W. Bryant Drive. The budget for this building is $5.2 million, and it will feature both outdoor seating and a larger pedestrian area. Lanier said that there would be considerations made for traffic, including a cross-walk with a red light, in order to ensure the safety of students in the area.

“Hopefully this will create a better environment for pedestrians and drivers to obey the law,” Lanier said.

The finance committee approved a $786 million budget for The University of Alabama for fiscal year 2015, a $47.7 million increase compared to the previous year. The proposal included a $62 million increase in operating revenue, totaling $661 million. The total 2015 operating budget for the University of Alabama System will be $3.8 billion, an increase of approximately $200 million from last year. The committee allocated $301 million for scholarships at all University of Alabama schools.

The proposal also showed a nearly $100 million higher-than-anticipated revenue from tuition and fees in fiscal year 2014. While the 2014 budget anticipated $473.6 million in revenue from tuition and fees, the University is projected to take in $570.6 million by the end of September.

Amendments to the UA Student Handbook were also approved at the meeting of the Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Planning Committee. These changes include updates to departments that may have undergone name changes, such as the Office of Student Conduct, Student Involvement and Leadership, and the SOURCE Board of Governors. In addition, updates and corrections were made to ensure that the handbook accurately reflects current policies that are found on the UA website. These corrections include Academic Integrity, ADA compliance, EEOC, and the Student Appellant Process. The UA Code of Conduct and Social Event Guidelines were also updated. According to Vice-Chancellor Charles Nash, the changes to the Student Handbook are not expected to have a significant impact.

“The changes to the Student Handbook were fairly benign,” Nash said. “We are just updating.”

Trustee Joe Espy, a former SGA President, expressed his concern regarding student and faculty involvement in the changes.

“Was there student participation and involvement in the changes that were made in the Student Handbook?” Espy said.

In response, current SGA President Hamilton Bloom said he was satisfied with the amount of student involvement with the revisions.

The committee also approved the appointment of Michael E. Kreger to the Garry Neil Drummond Endowed Chair of Civil Engineering in the department of civil and environmental engineering. It also approved the appointment of Edwin S. Ellis as Associate Professor Emeritus of Special Education and Multiple Abilities in the College of Education and the appointment of Linda E. Enders as Associate Professor Emerita of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.