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Zinser joins effort for campus repairs bond

SALEM ' Southern Oregon University President Elizabeth Zinser and other state university leaders visited the state Capitol on Thursday to push a &

36;500 million bond plan for campus repairs.

The proposed bond issue would provide a sorely needed infusion of funding to begin dealing with our enormous backlog of needed repairs, Zinser told a press briefing.

SOU's share would be &

36;25 million, spread over 10 years. The largest allocation is &

36;158 million reserved for Oregon State University.

Richard Jarvis, chancellor of the Oregon University System, said cuts in state support for higher education mean universities have to defer maintenance, which builds up.

It's the stress on our operating budget that has led us to bonds, said Jarvis. The Legislature is being asked to submit a proposed constitutional amendment to voters authorizing the bonds.

Because of the sour economy, the first sale would not take place until the 2005-07 biennium when the economy might have rebounded.

Zinser listed three priority projects for the Ashland campus. They include:

Central Hall, which houses the business school. Work would include installing new plumbing, fire sprinklers, complying with seismic codes and interior finish work. Cost: &

36;4.8 million.

Extensive maintenance work on all major sub-systems at Britt Center, which houses the school's nursing program and student services. The &

36;6 million project includes upgrading heating and ventilation systems, replacing galvanized water pipes and overhauling the building's 67-year-old electrical system.

McNeal Pavilion, home of the college's health and physical education programs. That work would include upgrades to all its major sub-systems, extensive repairs and refinishing the interior. The total cost is &

36;8 million.

The remainder of SOU's bond proceeds would be used on other campus buildings, including &

36;2.5 million in renovation work at Churchill Hall, which houses the administration and language programs.

It (&

36;25 million) won't take care of all our maintenance problems, said Zinser, but it will have a significant impact. It makes a major dent in the problem.

The presidents of Portland State, SOU, Western Oregon, Oregon State University and Oregon Institute of Technology discussed their major rehabilitation priorities and the poor condition of their buildings.

But Tim White, president of Oregon State, trumped them all when he described the university's Education Building at the Jefferson Street entrance to the sprawling campus.

We've encased the building in a chain link fence to hold the bricks on, White said. Plywood shields cover the front and back entrances to protect students and staff from falling debris.

If anything is going to fall, it would hit the shield first, said White, whose first priority is extensive renovation of the building.

Don Jepsen is a free-lance writer living in Salem.