UI trustees to vote on $4.5 million more for State Farm Center

UI trustees to vote on $4.5 million more for State Farm Center

CHAMPAIGN — The price tag for the massive renovation of State Farm Center is about to get even bigger.

The $165 million budget could bump up to almost $170 million pending approval from the UI Board of Trustees.

The board meets Thursday in Chicago to consider the request for a budget increase and several other proposals, including a raise for basketball coach John Groce.

Back in May 2013, trustees OK'd a $165 million budget for the multiyear State Farm Center project. The campus is asking for an increase of $4.5 million, which would bring the budget up to $169.5 million.

Officials are asking for the increase in advance of putting together the next bid package, set for Sept. 17, that includes a new scoreboard, video boards, a marquee, snow-guard work and amendments to the professional service and construction management contracts.

About $133 million in contracts have been awarded so far to the architect; construction manager; plumbing, heating and air-conditioning contractors; and more.

The project entails adding air conditioning to the building; new entrances, lobbies and locker rooms; a new box office; club seating; concession areas; and more. It's being paid for by a bond sale held earlier this spring, donations, student fees, ticket surcharges and Big Ten Network revenue.

$100,000 boost

On Thursday, the board will also consider a $100,000 raise and a one-year contract extension for Groce, proposed earlier this month by athletic director Mike Thomas.

A proposed amendment to Groce's contract would keep his base salary at $400,000 annually but boost his other compensation from media and marketing contracts to $1.3 million. His overall pay would rise to $1.7 million, plus incentives.

If approved, the amendment would also extend his contract through the 2018-19 basketball season. Groce's current contract runs through April 2018 and pays him $1.6 million annually, plus incentives.

UI spokesman Tom Hardy said the board's afternoon session will be devoted to a discussion of the university's "strategic future," given the leadership changes expected in coming months: the appointment of a new UI president and a new chancellor for the Chicago campus.

UI President Bob Easter, who plans to retire next summer, will reprise comments he made to the presidential search committee earlier this month about the qualities to look for in his successor and the challenges he or she will face.

Also on the agenda

— Construction contracts totaling almost $8.5 million for the renovation of the Natural History Building, 1301 W. Green St., U, which dates back to 1892. They include $5.88 million to Williams Brothers Co. of Peoria Heights for general construction, and $2.587 million to Ben Hur Steel Worx Inc. of St. Louis for structural steel work. The $73.4 million project will gut much of the interior, provide new classrooms, research labs and office spaces, and replace the building's plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.

— A professional services contract with BSA LifeStructures of Chicago for construction documents, bidding and construction administration services for the $50 million renovation of Everitt Laboratory, 1406 W. Green St., U. The firm will be paid a fixed fee of more than $2.54 million and up to $1.19 million in other expenses, for a total of $3.73 million.

Dean appointments

Several top administrative vacancies on the Urbana campus have been filled.

— Barbara Wilson, executive vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, has been chosen as the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the largest college at the Urbana campus. She replaces Ruth Watkins, who left last summer for a job at the University of Utah.

Wilson, a professor of communication and former department head, joined the UI faculty in 2000 after 12 years at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she was director of graduate studies. Her salary will be $325,000.

— Allen Renear, a professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and interim dean there since 2012, has been named permanent dean. Renear replaces John Unsworth, who left for Brandeis University in 2012.

Renear earned his bachelor's degree at Bowdoin College and his master's degree and doctorate at Brown University. Prior to joining the UI faculty in 2001, he led the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown. He has also been an associate dean for research for GSLIS and is a philosophy professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His salary will be $240,046.

— Interim dean Fritz Drasgow has been named the permanent dean of the School of Labor and Employment Relations.

He has been on the UI faculty since 1982 and was a co-director of the Center for Human Resources Management from 1996 to 2004. He succeeds Joseph Martocchio, who returned to teaching after serving as interim dean. Drasgow's annual salary will be $261,880.