Archive for Saturday, February 24, 2007

KU office remodeling tops $100K

University says overhaul was badly needed

February 24, 2007


Offices for KU's top administrators have brand new look

Thanks to a recent six figure overhaul, several offices for KU's top administrators have a brand new look. Enlarge video

Portraits of former Kansas University chancellors, including KU's first chancellor, Rev. R.W. Oliver, at far right, who served from 1865 to 1867, line the a wall near the chancellor's office. The administrative offices on the second floor of Strong Hall have recently undergone renovations totaling almost $107,000, including a new paint job, a $30,000 overhaul of the kitchen and $8,000 for radiator covers.

Portraits of former Kansas University chancellors, including KU's first chancellor, Rev. R.W. Oliver, at far right, who served from 1865 to 1867, line the a wall near the chancellor's office. The administrative offices on the second floor of Strong Hall have recently undergone renovations totaling almost $107,000, including a new paint job, a $30,000 overhaul of the kitchen and $8,000 for radiator covers.

Three radiator covers - $8,060.85

Three radiator covers - $8,060.85

One credenza - $3,627.54

One credenza - $3,627.54

One kitchen - $30,377

One kitchen - $30,377

The offices of Kansas University's top administrators have received a six-figure overhaul in recent months.

Since August 2006, KU has spent $106,895 on renovations to the corridor of offices in Strong Hall that include the offices of Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Provost Richard Lariviere, according to a document obtained by the Journal-World via a state open-records request.

The money includes a kitchen remodeling at a cost of $30,377, about $1,300 for an icemaker and pump, $849 for a refrigerator used to keep drinks cool, and $8,060 on covers for the three radiators in Lariviere's office.

KU spokesman Todd Cohen acknowledged that it's a large dollar amount but said the renovations were needed, adding that it had been many years since significant work had been done in the offices.

"It looks like a big number, but if you look at what it was spent on, it was spent very efficiently," he said. "This is the central administration office of the university. You would expect them to have regular, everyday furniture, not 30-year-old furniture, which is what a lot of the offices had."

He said the provost's offices hadn't been painted in 10 years and the chancellor's hadn't been painted in 13 years. The painting bill came to $19,291 for 9,068 square feet.

The 10-by-14-foot kitchen, which doesn't have a table and is used by 60 staff members, replaces two smaller kitchens, one of which didn't have running water.

"If the chancellor brings his lunch, it's going in there, too," Cohen said.

KU officials say that in Lariviere's office the radiator covers, built in-house by KU's Facilities Operations department, make the office less drafty.

Most of the new items were bought through the state's purchasing contract, except in cases where staff got approval to buy items that were a better value, Cohen said. All the furniture that was removed from the office was recycled to be used elsewhere on campus, he said.

Even $100,000 later, the offices still could use some work.

On a recent tour, Cohen and KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz pointed out pieces of furniture that still show wear and tear, such as a conference-room table next to the chancellor's office that was taken out of storage and has smudges on the surface, and a chair with a hole in the wicker backing.

Cohen said he realizes some people might question the spending, given the other maintenance needs on campus. One of the hot topics of this year's legislative session is to find a way to pay for millions of dollars in "deferred maintenance" at KU and other regents universities.

Last month a chemistry class had to be postponed in Malott Hall when a drain pipe broke and spilled a foul-smelling liquid into the classroom. Malott Hall has more than $14 million in maintenance needs.

"There really is no good time" to do a remodeling, Cohen said. "There's always going to be some other need out there."

Rich Givens, the chemistry professor who was teaching in the Malott Hall classroom when the pipe broke - and who got some of the liquid on his hand - said he doesn't begrudge the spending on the chancellor's and provost's offices.

"There are needs all over the university, and certain priorities have to come up at certain times," he said. "We have new people in the chancellor's office. ... We would do the same thing for a new faculty member in chemistry. We want people to come in and succeed."


Sigmund 10 years ago

I guess those repairs to the crumbling foundation and decrepit infrastructure could wait till Gov Kathy gives them more money.

DaREEKKU 10 years ago

It's okay, I mean I didn't need any extra money for books anyway. You can go ahead and blow my money on useless crap . Go ahead and give out scholarships to the athletics department. Go ahead and raise my problem!

mick 10 years ago

This should be a wake-up call to our legislators about the money requested for maintenance. Take that $727 million figure cited and divide it by ten.

PotSmokinRepublican 10 years ago

It's amazing how many construction projects have gone on in the last 5 years. They say the tuition increase does not go towards building renovations.


jayhawks71 9 years, 12 months ago

These comments should be a signal to KU regarding how to make purchases next time; space things out and no one will complain. Don't wait to do it all at once, even if that would be most efficient, instead nickel and dime the taxpayer so that they perceive "thrift." The taxpayer is a moron.

Rhoen 10 years ago

" ... [spokespersons] pointed out pieces of furniture that still show wear and tear, such as a conference-room table next to the chancellor's office that was taken out of storage and has smudges on the surface, and a chair with a hole in the wicker backing ...:

Us'uns here-'bouts calls them "antiques" ...

TheEleventhStephanie 10 years ago

When I'm freezing my ass off in my sticky desk in my crumbling classroom in Strong hall, it will make me all warm and fuzzy to know that the chancellor has new radiator covers. I bet his desk isn't sticky, either.

janeyb 10 years ago

Love the "Trading Spaces" idea! Those carpenters could have built the radiator covers, constructed a table for that new kitchen, and refinished the top of the conference table for under a thousand dollars!

budwhysir 10 years ago

Not to worry, with summer coming on, there will be many more cars traveling the turnpike. This roadway is a political avenue to the future of our university

Godot 9 years, 12 months ago

$100,000 is too much to be considered "affordable" for housing for a family of four in Lawrence.

But it is acceptable to spend that amount, and more (we all know the figure provided was a low-ball) for paint and fixtures for the chancellor and his provost.


silent_fool 10 years ago

I say good for them. 100,000 is a drop of water in the ocean that is KU's overall budget and I am sure the LJW could find examples of spending that solved any number of other issues that would warrant praise from the community. They just choose not to because that wouldn't be very interesting journalism.

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

Many research buildings have not been remodeled in 40 years or more (Malott and Haworth). I know many professors whose furniture is at least 30 years old, and whose labs are crumbling and have not been modernized in 40 years.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 10 years ago

In an age when the US government pays $400 for a toilet seat, I'd say the university did a great job of remodeling with a relatively modest budget. Good stuff.

Godot 10 years ago

Das Ubermine, yes, I was the one who declared that there should be an independent task for to oversee the budget and the repairs at all the universities. The embarrassing oppulence of this remodel job is proof.

Lifelong_Lawrencian 10 years ago


That's the most sense anyone has made on this thread yet. Thanks.

Godot 10 years ago


That's the most sense anyone has made on this thread yet. Thanks."

Eric, check it out. How was this bid out, who oversaw the construction, who approved the contracts?

Mike Blur 9 years, 12 months ago

Budwhysir, I'd like to inform you that you are losing your edge, but I can't do that because you didn't have much of one to begin with.

budwhysir 9 years, 12 months ago

So whats the big deal, the university needs a little money to make some improvements. Shouldnt we the tax payers just poney up the dough????

If the streets need to be fixed, dont we pay for it??? Anyhow, lets just increase the toll road fees and this will all be good.

Godot 9 years, 12 months ago

Might be time for a review of all the PR gaffes made by Lariviere since his arrival.

lunacydetector 10 years ago

i love it that $30,000 was spent on a new kitchen so his highness the chancellor has a nice place to store his brown bag lunch. since when does brown paper sack go with stainless steal? could his lunch box be made of stainless steal as well? that makes more sense.

the $8,000 radiator covers are a nice addition too. i wonder how much a small central hvac system would've cost in comparison?

it's only the taxpayer's least that's what imelda marcos used to say.

fairae 10 years ago

Ya know, for professional grade equipment, that is not a bad cost at all. The radiator covers look great! F and O did a great job with those! Congrats Guys and Gals!

Sean Livingstone 10 years ago

I started as a young faculty, wasn't given much money to use to start my research, and my unused money was taken back by my department, left me stranded with a graduate student without funding. But I made it through. I thought KU was poor.

Now spending $300,000 just to make his office look nicer and say that it's necessary? Wanna take a look at many of the faculty's offices' conditions?

I went a long way, been here a long time. Seen too much of such spending on the unnecessary. Texas spents a lot on their chancellor, but their new faculty gets a lot more for their startup and better offices. Way to go!

LawrenceBoy 10 years ago

One phrase comes to mind: "It's easier to ask forgiveness, than to get permission."

The closest K-Corp will ever come to asking forgiveness for anything is to explain themselves. We should understand. They are smart. We are uninformed. They always have our the students best interests at heart. Politics never comes into play. True forgiveness? Never.

sourpuss 10 years ago

This sort of spending on such frivolity is absolutely unacceptable. What the #*$& are those radiator covers made out of that makes them cost $8000?! And what is essentially a kitchenette for $20,000!? Excuse me? Why are these top-end appliances needed?

Considering that some offices in Strong are downsizing due to lack of money, and combining jobs that have no business together to save money (what database designer would ever to secretarial duties, all for $40,000? Not a one.) If I were the Regents, I would cut Heminway's salery by the same amount for one year and thank him for his generous contribution to the physical fabric of the university. If he wants a ritzy office, let him friggin pay for it. I'm sure all those students will be warmed knowing their tuition money went to pay for luxurizing a place they can't even step a foot into.

imagold 10 years ago

Don't put all the blame on the chancellor. The grapevine says the newest big dog asked for some of these upgrades. (How long did the chancellor work in such pitiful conditions?) Putting aside the fact that there are more important items needing attention in campus buildings, there should be a central kitchen/lounge area for all employees to use. Not just 60 employees. In fact, wouldn't it be nice if each building on campus had a break room/kitchen for their employees? (Maybe some of the new buildings do.) There are a few offices in Strong with "kitchens". Some have dishwashers, a steady supply of filtered water to a coffee pot, full-size refrigerators, hot water spigots at the sink, garbage disposals, etc. And yet some offices have to buy their own bottled water, apartment-sized refrigerators, microwaves, coffee pots, etc., and keep them wherever they can find a spot. Believe it or not, I have to drink my colas and water without ice!!! And I wash my dishes in the bathroom.

warthog 10 years ago

I don't work at KU, but I know waste when I see it. This new kitchen is equipped better than most homes, and not that many homes have $100,000 kitchens, either. It's hard for the governor to justify charging turnpike users additional fees when the schools are spending money on radiator covers. "it looks like a big number." It IS a big number, ya doofus. Come live in the real world for a bit.

janeyb 10 years ago

Pathetic. Kansas legislature are you looking at this? Kathleen, you want to raise taxes, raise tuition, increase turnpike fees to pay for this?? It reminds me of Dave Wittig and what he did with his offices at Westar Energy.---Oh wait a minute---Wittig was a KU graduate! Now we know where he got the concept. Lets cry and cry to the legislature that we must raise rates, then remodel our offices with the bucks.

imagold 10 years ago

Final comments after rereading the article and watching the Channel 6 video. 1) Sorry the Provost's office is drafty. Does he know some of his employees in Strong Hall are working in coats, hats, gloves and three layers of clothes? 2) Let's keep an eye on job performance. Seems all it takes for people to succeed is a kitchen and office makeover. 3) The furniture wasn't good enough for the Chancellor or Provosts offices, but good enough for some other office? It makes me feel better knowing somewhere on KU's campus, some lucky employees are jumping for joy at receiving that 30 year old furniture. That's it. I've got to go read the comics.

Sean Livingstone 10 years ago

More of my comments. Yes, you will see excellent facilities that chancellors at other big 12 are enjoying. However, their classrooms are far better equiped and remember, no leaking roofs and unrepaired facilities. Many of the big 12 enjoys surpluses and big money because of the money they invest upfront on university promotion, attracting big research dollars by providing faculties with more facilities and room to do their research. Ask yourself, $100,000 can buy you a lot of research equipment that will eventually attract $1 million of funding, where KUCR will get $440,000, which means we will be even more successful next time around. Imagine what that $100,000 investment could bring. $100,000 for your office?

When you visit the Engineering... you will be really sad to see that some classrooms are so much better than the others. Sometimes when I lecture, I cannot find a OHP! Take a serious look at how our facilities are running. It's not that I want to criticize. My new faculties are "starving" for money and try so hard to get new research monies. I think KU needs to think about how it spends it money now.

JC 10 years ago

And these are the people who have been fighting the GTA union for two years over a small increase to their $10,000/year salary? The same people who keep telling departments not to replace departing faculty and instead to use under trained and poorly paid GTA's and lecturers to teach core classes?

There seems to be a serious problem with the KU administration. They do not seem to recognize where their priorities should properly lie. Resources should be used first in furthering the university's educational mission, not on symbols of status which most students and taxpayers will never see.

They spent $100K on non-essential beatification project for the administration offices in Strong Hall while Wescoe Hall remains a disgusting, poorly lit, stale, health-hazard. Things like this reveal where their priorities lie.

Rhoen 10 years ago

Wasn't there a substantial renovation and redecoration to those quarters just a few years ago?

It's too bad that in the quest for national publicity and tumescent rankings, the KU Powers did not think of working a deal with "Trading Spaces."

It would have been a wonderful thing to see the K-State bigwigs in their purple t-shirts busily scurrying around Strong Hall while the K-U Powers did the same thing over yonder in their red-and-blue togs with the gracefully curving serif on their "K's" ...

Too late schmart, even with those huge IQ's ...

janeyb 10 years ago

"The money includes a kitchen remodeling at a cost of $30,377, about $1,300 for an icemaker and pump, $849 for a refrigerator used to keep drinks cool."

It is called a Pop Machine!! That's what the peons use.

"There really is no good time" to do a remodeling, Cohen said. "There's always going to be some other need out there."

You Think??? How much do they pay this guy to be KU's spokesman? If it is above that $2.00+/hour Kansas minimum wage, it's too much!! He could be a candidate for Bush's next press secretary.

Lifelong_Lawrencian 10 years ago

Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway's total compensation is the fifth lowest in the Big 12, according to a new survey.

The Kansas Board of Regents gave Hemenway a 4-percent pay increase this year, upping his state salary by about $9,600 to $250,500.

A retention agreement will pay Self $225,000 annually (for five years) if he remains at KU through March 31, 2011. It's the retention agreement (once called an annuity) factored in that brings Self's contract to the $1.6 million-per-annum figure.

Seems to me we could afford to spend a little on an office remodel. I wonder what Coach Self's office looks like?

Rationalanimal 10 years ago

Whose worried about cost and budget when funding for higher education comes from the golden goose, aka, I-70 tollway. $30,000 for a kitchen remodel. This should reassure the folks paying the toll fees their money is being well spent. This is classic big institution waste with zero accountability to taxpayers. Weren't we all told Seagull was a fiscal conservative who puts the clamp down on wasteful spending. Now that the election is over, that was all adverstising.

Godot 10 years ago

Is it a coincidence that the over-the-top spending on the remodel, the proposed $1,000,000 remodel of the Chancellor's residence, and the revelation of hundreds of millions of dollars of neglected maintenance comes within a year of the legislature 1)allowing KU to keep the interest on its tuition, and 2)removing Regents oversight over university budgets?

fletch 10 years ago

Man you people just continue to miss the forest for the trees. That and you just wholesale forget to read parts of the article. Dozens of people work in the chancellor's office and Provost's office. In addition, hundreds of staff members from Strong Hall share that office space and kitchen space. So, yeah, I'm willing to let them have a working kitchen just like every faculty department on campus. They deserve a place to eat lunch at work. Wescoe is overcrowded with students during lunch, so that's not an option. The Unions are each a half mile away, so those aren't options. Employees that are happy and have a place to eat lunch are apt to take long lunch breaks off campus. That means more efficient employees who like to stay at their workplace. I'm quite fine with that concept.

As for construction costs: it's not KU's fault. KU is held by the same purchasing restrictions as any other state agency. That means all construction has to go out to an open bid among approved contractors and the low bid always wins. If that bid process said that building and installing radiator covers costs $8K, then that's the low bid, and it's still cheaper than an employee lawsuit because their scalded themselves on an exposed radiator.

If you don't like the costs, complain to the state. They are the ones that approve contractors for state work and set up the bid process.

Teri Chambers 10 years ago

fletch-you are right-i was wondering of people just didn't see the worlds "60 staff members". that means 60 people who are KU Support Staff and Unclassified Staff.

two things that don't fit my experience-our dept. just moved to another building-we Did Not have a kitchen--no sink except the bathrooms. we used old furniture to place a microwave and coffee maker on. these were places next to our fridge in a hallway. in our new location we are quite giddy over having a conference room with a kitchenette. however-the water in this building is yellow :-( so we bring in bottled water.

also-the way parking is on campus, especially around strong hall-you don't dare leave campus for lunch. otherwise you will be taking a hike after you park your car. 15 spaces were lost when the korean war memorial thing was placed on campinille drive.

i personally do not begrudge the chancellor and provost getting some remodeling done in their offices.

imagold-many buildings are shared by different departments-each department tries to provide a lounge/kitchenette if they have space. however, a centralized spot in a building becomes problematic in figuring out whose to pay for it...the anthropology dept? or psych dept?

rhoen-the other remodel that took place recently in strong hall was the CLAS dean's office. iirc-that was about 5 years ago.

OnlyTheOne 10 years ago

Response to Fletch "eat lunch at work" from the article "kitchen, which doesn't have a table"

"same purchasing restrictions" from the article "bought through the state's purchasing contract, except in cases where staff got approval to buy items that were a better value," But what is "value?" One can make a good argument that a Mercedes is a better value than a Cadillac but does that mean that either were necessary when a Pontiac would be just fine?

"building and installing radiator covers costs $8K, then that's the low bid," from the article "radiator covers, built in-house by KU's Facilities Operations department" Okay then, what bid? On top of that there's the comment, "make the office less drafty." I'm sorry but I've seen a fair number of radiator covers installed over the years and the one benefit I don't recall was a decrease in drafts!

This article has to read with the previous information that approximatly $500,000 to $600,000 (I can't remember the exact figure) of the repairs listed as necessary for KU were to the Chancellor's residence.

Too much money spent in the wrong area at the wrong time, IMHO.

imagold 10 years ago

Fletch - "In addition, hundreds of staff members from Strong Hall share that office space and kitchen space." You need to read the article again. Nowhere does it say hundreds of staff members from Strong Hall share that office space and kitchen space. You must have ran into a tree.

I've been trying to figure out where the 60 staff members come from. Maybe they're including student employees. No way are there "hundreds" of staff members using that kitchen. If they'd invited others in Strong Hall to use it, "hundreds" might be a possibility. Ya think that will happen?

guesswho 9 years, 12 months ago

Ahhh...what's wrong with Kansas? The need to be fair, i.e., it's not fair that the provost's office got an upgrade, etc. Of course there are huge needs all over campus, but shame on the LJW for putting this on the front page to create such a division between the townfolk and gownfolk. This is really pretty modest compared to most CEO and Division-I coaches setups. I'm sure many of the complainers would rather have the administration using card tables, etc.

It is taxpayer money, yes, but I wish I could see Dolph's salary and offices on what he makes off his publishing kingdom. Why aren't people upset about that?

hawklet21 9 years, 12 months ago

yeah, how about ALL of the employees get top-of-the-line kitchens? i'm a student, but i know that several valuable university employees are making do with 30-year-old microwaves, crappy dorm fridges, and coffee pots brought from home. ohhhh and it would be nice to have projectors in all the classrooms to make presentations easier. but wait, that won't help me learn. knowing that the chancellor has a 1,300 dollar icemaker helps me study. thanks, ku.

justsomewench 9 years, 12 months ago

"It is taxpayer money, yes, but I wish I could see Dolph's salary and offices on what he makes off his publishing kingdom. Why aren't people upset about that?"

it's called censorship. they pick the propaganda they print and put on their subpar news (really, guys, it's just awful). we can call them on it all day, but it's just not newsworthy to them.

it's good to be the king.

Linda Aikins 9 years, 12 months ago

I know for a fact that the staff did NOT care for this plan. They had a very nice little area to sit and eat their lunch, and have done so for years without any problem. They held lots of social gatherings at that table, and celebrated almost every event that came up with staff. It was very fun and very popular.

But, alas, the PROVOST decided it was ugly and needed to look better for the clients (clients?). The Chancellor was doing fine with the way it was. Perhaps they needed some structural repairs, but the aesthetic stuff was all Lariviere. And yes, there are staff in Strong working with coats and gloves on.

Pitiful, in my opinion.

KU_cynic 9 years, 12 months ago

I have two comments that do not appear to overlap with those posted above:

1) Regardless of the merits of these expenditures, the timing is terrible given the Regents' push for extra state funding for deferred maintenance -- terrible foresight with respect to the PR implications. The KU leadership that spent so much time and money on picking the right hue of blue and the right type font for "KU" seemingly couldn't foresee that this is not an opportune moment for self-serving opulence. Why not just have Hemenway and LaRiviere drive to Topeka in new Ferraris and cut cookies on the capital lawn before testityfing about the need for additional funds?

2) I can't help but wonder if this story at this time in the LJW is somehow part of Dolph Simons' snit with Hemenway over the KU Med / KU Hospital imbrogilio. It's amazing to me that a long-time friend and benefactor of KU appears to feel so alienated with regard to this decision process. I don't know if Hemenway has stiff-armed Simons or whether Simons' case is off-base, but I do know a PR fiasco when I see one. Perhaps the damage to KU that will be done by this story could have been avoided if Hemenway could have found a way to listen to and sincerely address Simons' concerns about the Med/Hospital issue.

Charles Bloss 9 years, 12 months ago

Well yeah I question the spending DUH! When they are talking about a bill to raise my taxes to fix things that should have been fixed all along. Someone was asleep at the switch all these years and spent the money elsewhere. If taxes are to be raised to repair and replace things at Regent schools, then they should be raised statewide, not just in counties where the schools are located. I derive no benefit from KU. I never went there, never intend to go there, have no children who would go there. Why should my taxes be singled out and raised just because I happen to live in a county, with taxes already far too high, where KU is located. This proposal totally sucks and is unfair to me and all other Douglas county residents! Thank you, Lynn

Godot 9 years, 12 months ago

Maybe I have been rash in my condemnation of the exhorbitant expense.

Compare the $100,000 for the remodel of the lair of the King of KU and his Archbishop to the $250,000 study commissioned by the Lawrence City Comissioners to determine how best to re-make Lawrence.

At Least King Hemenway and Bishop Lariviere have something to show for the money they spent.

warthog 9 years, 12 months ago

Talk about shooting the messenger. LJW reported on a situation that had been broght to their attention. That's what newspapers do. Do they have an agenda? Of course they do. So does everyone else I know. But don't blame LJW because the Provost is digging into taxpayer pockets so he has a place to warm up his lunch. Like the man brings a sack lunch. (That's funny right there.) If they wanted a nice kitchen to eat in, why not just walk the block to the Chancellor's house? Surely he wouldn't have minded.

Right on, imagold! Maybe some of that furniture will someday make it to your office!

Rhoen 9 years, 12 months ago

One very good thing brought out in this thread ...

KU is fortunate to have REAL craftsmen, artisans, and artists of all kinds employed in F&O and many other classifed and unclassified positions.

ALSO ... these highly skilled, hard-working and barely-paid people are willing to their lunches in whatever location is available, regardless of it ambience, furnishings, or ability to impress visitors ...

I think we are seeing the emergence of an institutional virus that might be named "Texas Syndrome"...

Wilbur_Nether 9 years, 12 months ago

Lynn731 fumed "When they are talking about a bill to raise my taxes to fix things that should have been fixed all along. Someone was asleep at the switch all these years..."

That would have been the Legislature.

Wilbur_Nether 9 years, 12 months ago

Earlier, I posted that the Legislature had been asleep at the switch. On reflection, I should have also noted that many legislators were rewarded for their negligence through reelection.

We seem to deserve the government we get.

dizzy_from_your_spin 9 years, 12 months ago

"Let them eat cake, while I enjoy my newly remodeled kitchen from the fruit of their labor."

Godot 9 years, 12 months ago

"That would have been the Legislature."

Sorry, Wilbur, the Legislature does not have the privilege of micromanaging KU.That responsibility rests solely on the shoulders/desk/conscience of the chancellor.

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