Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

23 April 2007

Media Reports on JSU Board of Trustees Meeting

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Field school finally ready to be built

By: Jennifer Bacchus
News staff writer

This illustration shows the front view of the proposed Little River Canyon Field School. Illustration special to The News.

The Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees handed down a decision Monday which has been decades in the making.

JSU’s interest in the Little River Canyon area began in the ’70s with botanical and archeological surveys of the area by JSU professors. Throughout the years, the school was instrumental in the creation of the national park center there, helping to negotiate the park boundaries and the sale of Alabama Power land.

Then came the idea of a field school there. It was conceived as a place where students and professors could study and do experiments, a lab facility with offices for the park officials and room for visitors to learn about Little River Canyon and the ecology of Northeast Alabama.

Funding from grants and other sources totaling $6,195,000 has been applied for and a building, originally designed with every hope and dream included, has been redesigned to keep the most important elements and stay in the budget.

On Monday, when the trustees unanimously approved the bid from Eidson and Associates of Cullman for $5,995,000 the final step was taken to begin this long-awaited project.

“All of this is on a fast track now because this is the construction season and we want to get as much done as we can before the big rains come,” said Pete Conroy, director of JSU’s field schools.

The field school has already begun to teach classes of children and college students about the joys of nature. Many have enjoyed the walks and hikes sponsored by JSU as well as the Frog Pond Adventures and other activities. Now with the bid approval, Conroy sees the pace picking up on JSU’s new home at the canyon.

“My own children at Kitty Stone Elementary have gone on field trips to the facility, so it will be a wonderful, wonderful thing,” said JSU President William Meehan, “Environmentally, it is the largest gorge with the most biodiversity east of the Mississippi.”

At the meeting, the trustees also heard from Bill Curtis of East Alabama Planning and Mickey Hall of Skipper Consulting about a recent study on the feasibility of a bus system at JSU and throughout the surrounding community.

The study took into account the number of parking spaces at the school and the peak parking times. Researchers spoke to students about the issues they saw in the current parking situation and whether or not they would ride a bus to class if it were available.

The study found most JSU students would be willing to ride a bus to class if it was available. About 98 percent said they would ride, but Hall said from experience that only about 60 percent will actually use the system.

He recommended the board consider a bus system, using grants to defray much of the cost and increasing either student parking fees or charging the students a transit fee to pay for the rest.

“There is a demand for transit services on the JSU campus and also for transit services in some areas of the city of Jacksonville,” said Hall.

The newly elected executives of the Student Government Association were on hand at the meeting to meet the board, so Meehan asked the students for their opinion.

All believed the system would be a benefit to JSU, both by bringing the students together in a new social environment as well as by alleviating student concerns about parking. However, several of the students said they didn’t feel they would ever use such a system, preferring to pay extra to drive around campus or walk to class.

In addition to service around campus, Skipper Consulting also looked at the feasibility of including routes into the Jacksonville community, possibly allowing students and Jacksonville residents to take the bus to area stores.

After the last board meeting in January, Jim Bennett, the board’s chairman, requested a demonstration of how the university plans to achieve its goal of 10,000 students by 2010.

In answer to Bennett’s request, Dr. Rebecca Turner, vice president of Academic Affairs, and Tim Garner, marketing consultant, updated the recruitment plan, including many of the marketing strategies they have recently begun to implement.

Playing up the degrees offered online, adding scholarships and expanding the schedule to allow for more creative class scheduling are many of the academic ways of increasing enrollment. In addition, the school will soon actively market itself to students through a $300,000 to $500,000 public relations campaign.

“I already believe that this is key to the image and the vitality of this institution and the forward movement of our university. I know many members of the board share my opinion that we ought to do all we can and have a planned implementation to reach the announced goal of 10,000 students by 2010,” said Bennett. “This is one of the most important things that I think this institution should now focus on.”

At the meeting, the board also:

• Approved a recommendation from the Academic Affairs Committee to accept the university’s strategic diversity plan.

• Approved a recommendation from the Athletic Committee to allow a third of all revenue from a guaranteed game in any sport to go to the coaches in that sport for discretionary purposes. The remainder of the revenue from the games will go to the athletic department.

• Approved a resolution not to raise tuition for the 2007-08 school year and to raise the late registration fee from $30 to $100 while dropping the drop/add fee.

• Heard from Athletic Director Jim Fuller about the new scoreboards being installed at Paul Snow Stadium. The new equipment should be operational in time for graduation later this month.

• Heard from Meehan about capital projects underway around campus, including Chimney Peak Observatory, the art department annex building and dishwasher replacements in Jack Hopper Dining Hall.

About Jennifer Bacchus
Jennifer Bacchus is a staff writer at The Jacksonville News. She can be reached at 256-435-5021 or via e-mail at

Contact Jennifer Bacchus

See story at The Jacksonville News's website: .

Note: JSU faculty, staff and students may access The Jacksonville News online through their affiliation with the University. Those not affiliated with JSU may have to subscribe to receive The Jacksonville News online. If you already subscribe to The Jacksonville News, you receive a complimentary online membership. This provides complete access to all the content and services of the site at no additional charge. Otherwise there is an online monthly charge for their online service. Contact The Jacksonville News for information.

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at