Trustees Hear from Concerned Students
By Jennifer Bacchus
News Staff Writer
|Students Jane Humber, Sara Adams and Andy Hug hold
up signs in protest of the new proposed stadium at Jacksonville State
University. Photo: Anita Kilgore
The Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees plans to have bid
specifications ready for approval by their next meeting, on July 14, but the
stadium renovations were discussed during Monday’s meeting as the board heard
from a group of students who had come to protest the project.
“I’ve spent so many games here at Paul Snow Stadium through playing in the
Marching Southerners,” said Philip Goodman, senior at JSU and spokesman for the
group of protesters. “Seen us win games, seen us lose games, but have not seen
us win Division I-AA and that is one thing that is critical, to me, before we
Goodman told about his own frustrations in his major, communications, with a
shortage of faculty to instruct those concentrating on broadcast journalism. The
faculty is currently searching for someone to fill that position.
Goodman voiced concerns many students across the campus are feeling – that
the new construction would in some way take away funding they feel should be set
aside for more academic programs or additional faculty.
After Goodman had completed his remarks, Board Chairman Jim Bennett spoke to
the students’ concerns, assuring them the money for the renovations would not
affect the academic programs of the school.
“Our sports are already Division I in everything except football. Basketball
is Division I; there is no Division I-AA in basketball,” said Bennett. “And the
$37 million dollars, $20 million of that is for student housing as a dormitory
as a part of that project. These funds are privately raised for the stadium and
it is not an either or situation to which you could take that $17 million and
put it in the communications department.”
Walter McKee of McKee and Associates, the architect for the project, spoke to
the board prior to committee meetings Monday morning and showed them the latest
drawings for the renovation.
McKee plans to have a main entrance into the stadium at the southeast corner.
The project will add 5,400 seats to the stadium with 1,000 being set-aside for
stadium club seating. During McKee’s presentation to the group, board member
Randy Owen asked if the renovations could include the proper site preparation to
allow the stadium to be used as a concert venue in the future.
“Have we looked to the future enough to where, if we would be willing to put
concerts in this for our students, that it would be concert-friendly, in other
words that they wouldn’t have to spend so much money for production?” asked
Owen. “I don’t know if there is a way to do this or not, but, thinking to the
future, I want to leave this better than we found it.”
Owen said he could give McKee the name of a concert producer who might be
able to tell the architect what facilities would need to be available for a
“That is something we were looking at when we did the artificial turf, when
we brought all that substrate in, we added additional conduit,” said JSU
President William Meehan in response to Owen’s questions. “You’re right,
concerts today, we cannot generate enough income through our Pete Mathews
Coliseum, but with this stadium and that 20,000 seat capacity, that would ensure
a profit and we could bring in much larger groups.”
The board has formed an interim committee of board members Mack Roberts, Lt.
Governor Jim Folsom and Jim Coxwell to discuss a possible bond issue and the
financial aspects of the stadium project. Clint Carlson, JSU’s vice president of
administrative and business affairs will serve as advisor to the committee.
During the meeting, the board also approved the implementation a campus
transit system. A $1,943,557 grant from the Federal Transportation
Administration has been awarded to the school for the project and JSU will have
to supply matching funds of 20 percent.
As a part of this project, the board plans to have on-campus parking for
resident students only. Commuter parking will be located on the edges of campus
to encourage students to take the bus.
“It’s going to be an education to teach them to park their vehicles and use
the bus system to their advantage,” said Meehan.
The board hopes to implement the system in 2009.
Also during Monday’s meeting, the board approved a tuition hike, an increase
in the cost of campus housing and raised the application fee from $20 to $30.
The increases are in response to a $6,591,697 reduction in state funds in the
2008-2009 proposed budget.
In-state undergraduate students will be charge $190 per credit hour, while
graduate students will pay $250. Out of state students will pay twice the amount
of their in-state counterparts.
The cost of distance learning classes will also go up to $240 per credit hour
for undergrad and $300 for graduate-level classes.
“We think this is very reasonable considering the budget cuts we will realize
this year and even with this, we are still going to have to trim the budget in
order to stay within the dollars we have,” said Mack Roberts, chairman of the
Building and Finance committee.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the replacement of the roof on Brewer Hall. The present flat roof
will be replaced by a pitched one.
• Approved an additional retirement option for JSU faculty and staff through
About Jennifer Bachus
Jennifer Bacchus is a staff writer at The Jacksonville
News. She can be reached at 256-435-5021 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com
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