Regents approve $49M Allen Fieldhouse renovation, new wages for KU police, new name for KU football practice facility
photo by: Journal-World photo
A $49 million project to renovate historic Allen Fieldhouse received the green light from the Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday.
The Regents, who oversee all six of the state’s public universities, expressed no concerns with the project, which will add amenities like additional chair-back seating, a pub area for fans, new video boards and infrastructure improvements such as heating and cooling upgrades.
With Regents approval, the project is on track to start in April. Work will run through September and then pause for the next basketball season. Work then will resume again in April 2024 and be completed by September 2024, according to plans filed with the Regents.
Regents at their monthly meeting in Topeka also took several other actions related to the University of Kansas. They include:
• Unanimously approved a plan for KU to begin offering bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in criminal justice at the university’s Edwards Campus in Johnson County.
The program, which will be taught partially online, drew objections from both Wichita State University and Fort Hays State University. Both schools offer similar programs, and they argued the KU program would be too duplicative of what they already offer.
But KU officials said the Kansas City metro area has particular need for criminal justice degree holders to fill a growing number of jobs in the law enforcement, corrections and court systems. KU provided letters of support from several elected officials in Johnson County and from economic development organizations in the KC metro. KU also argued the data showed the current programs at Wichita State and Fort Hays State were not attracting many students from the Kansas City area, and KU does not believe its program will attract many from Wichita or Hays.
• Police officers on KU’s Lawrence campus are set to get raises after Regents approved a new contract with the union that represents officers.
Members of the University of Kansas Police Officers Association recently unanimously approved a new agreement with KU officials that will set new minimum salaries for officers who serve on the KU police force.
The new contract, which has been under negotiation since December, requires all police officers to be paid at least $53,000 per year and police investigators to be paid at least $63,000 per year. The contract calls for “security officers” to be paid at least $32,000 per year.
The documents provided to the Regents didn’t spell out how much of an increase the wages will represent for the 32 individuals who are part of the union, but the document said every member covered by the contract will see their salaries immediately increase to at least the minimum levels.
• Unanimously agreed to a KU request to name the outdoor football practice facility on the KU campus after the Dave and Janet Murfin family. The practice fields, which are just southeast of the football stadium, will be named the Murfin Family Practice Fields.
Both Dave and Janet Murfin are KU graduates and donors to the university. Dave Murfin is a former member of the Kansas Board of Regents and is the CEO of Wichita-based Murfin Inc. He has extensive operations in the oil and gas exploration business and also is an owner of one of the largest John Deere construction equipment dealerships in North America.
The practice fields have been built for several years, but the Murfin family did not want the fields named after it while Dave Murfin was serving on the Board of Regents or while any of their children were still attending KU, Chancellor Douglas Girod told the Regents in making the request. Girod said signage will go up shortly to rename the fields.