The Arkansas State University Board of Trustees approved on Thursday (Aug. 27) a $12.6 million plan to renovate and modernize the historic Wilson Hall on the Arkansas State campus in Jonesboro.
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine will lease Wilson Hall, formerly home to the A-State College of Humanities, for use as an additional instructional site for its medical students. NYIT has said it plans to open the site in August 2016.
System President Charles L. Welch told members of the board that the project needs a short-term, $8 million loan for up to eight years to finance the renovation. NYIT and A-State each will pay about $2.3 million up-front on the project for renovation, technology and furnishings.
“We fully anticipate that the entire cost of renovation will be paid with revenue from NYIT, and at some point the university will receive revenues that exceed that amount for the benefit of the university,” Welch said. “Our oldest and most historic building on campus will be getting an extensive renovation, and it will be an improved asset to the State of Arkansas with funding ultimately all coming from NYIT.”
Welch said A-State’s $2.3 million investment will be paid from existing institutional funds and will not require a tuition or fee increase.
Arkansas State requested a $3 million appropriation from the Arkansas General Assembly for renovation of Wilson Hall prior to discussions with NYIT, Welch said, but it was not funded. The $12.6 million is more than originally projected for the project, but NYIT and A-State determined that the building could be used for a longer period so more extensive plans were developed.
Some of the renovation plans include removal of many interior walls that were previously added to create faculty offices or subdivide larger spaces; electrical and HVAC renovations to manage the laboratories and specialized teaching spaces such as the simulation emergency room, simulation operating room, clinical learning rooms and the gross anatomy lab; energy-efficient lighting; fire sprinkler system; modernized, ADA-compliant restrooms; and technology infrastructure.
NYIT has agreed to pay A-State $300,000 annually to lease the space and another $300,000 annually for maintenance and utilities.
In addition, NYIT will pay $50 per student for security services and make other payments that will be determined annually.
The loan information will be sent to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to determine its economic feasibility, but the university believes the request meets feasibility requirements.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a minor revision in A-State lease agreement with the Red Wolves Foundation related to construction at Centennial Bank Stadium.
• Adopted resolutions recognizing significant contributions to the Centennial Bank Stadium project through the naming of facilities including Johnny Allison Tower, Wayne & Virginia Baker Gateway, Woodard McAlister Family Club, and the International Tours Ticket Booth.