Since the occupants of Kansas University’s highest administration posts have arrived on campus, their office suites have seen more than $155,000 in renovation and remodeling work.
Jack Martin, a KU spokesman, said the renovations were necessary, noting the carpet was last replaced during the 1997-98 school year and had holes and stains in it, and workers were tripping over ripples in the carpet. The chancellor’s conference room was in need of a technology upgrade, he said.
“The most advanced piece of technology in that room was a telephone,” Martin said. “The second most advanced was a white board.”
Records that the Journal-World obtained from an open-records request show that the suites of offices in Strong Hall that include the chancellor’s and provost’s offices received a variety of upgrades, including:
l New flooring in the chancellor’s reception area and 11 offices in the suite, at a cost of more than $30,000.
l Improvements to the Regents Room, the main conference room for the chancellor. A new table, data jacks and video conferencing equipment along with electrical, drywall, painting and other work totalling more than $65,000.
l Replacing 10 office cubicles in the provost’s reception area for more than $33,000.
l Purchasing office furniture in the provost’s offices totalling more than $13,700.
l Purchasing and installing televisions for a conference room in the provost’s office that also serves as the university’s crisis-management room, at a cost of about $3,500.
The remainder of the costs went toward some painting and other work station refurbishment, including the replacement of some cubicles that no longer fit together after being mixed with used furnishings from other offices.
The open-records request asked for records pertaining to renovations dating to when Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little arrived in August 2009, and Provost Jeff Vitter was hired in March 2010, though no improvements were made to the chancellor’s offices until 2011.
Martin said the money used for the provost’s and chancellor’s renovations came from state taxpayer dollars and tuition funds. He said the university spent at least $43 million on building improvements and renovations in the 2011-12 academic year alone, along with more than $620,000 on office furniture and $73,000 on office equipment. Some units may track their expenses differently so they wouldn’t show up in a centralized search, he said.
The last major remodeling of the provost’s and chancellor’s offices came in 2007, when they had more than $100,000 worth of work done, including the remodeling of a kitchen that serves the chancellor’s office area, radiator covers and some painting.
Chris Crandall, a professor of psychology, is serving as president of KU’s University Senate, and has been in the area of the offices and some of the conference rooms for university governance meetings.
“I would say it’s not lavish,” he said of the furnishings and decor in the offices. “It’s modern; it’s good.”
The nicest thing in the offices, he said, is the bathrooms, which he said still weren’t excessively done.
“They’re about at the level of what you’d expect to find in a midlevel attorney’s bathroom,” he said.
— Higher education reporter Andy Hyland can be reached at 832-6388. Follow him at Twitter.com/LJW_KU.