K-State addresses $12 million of deferred maintenance projects

Waters Hall is undergoing construction to increase office space, improve conference areas and allow for increased student success and enrollment. The project is set to finish in August 2024. (Haylee Haslett | Collegian Media Group)

After the launch of the Next-Gen program, Kansas State is beginning work on $12 million worth of deferred maintenance projects around campus to bring improvements to classrooms and facilities. 

Casey Lauer, associate vice president of facilities, said deferred maintenance means projects that should have been taken care of previously. 

“Really the only difference between being deferred and being more strategic or preventative in nature is deferred can mean small scale, something that is past-due from a maintenance perspective,” Lauer said. 

One of the maintenance projects includes updates to Waters Hall, Dan Moser, associate dean of the College of Agriculture, said. 

“There will be much better spaces for student organizations,” Moser said. “It’ll have renovated space for the university programs office. We have one of the top chapters of what’s called MANRRS, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, so they’ll have new office space. … We’re kind of restructuring who’s where.” 

Moser said upgrades to facilities around campus will cause growth in enrollment as well.

“I’ve hosted prospective students with the windows open in a snowstorm, which doesn’t make a very good impression of our facilities,” Moser said. “I think there’s a really good opportunity to improve recruitment and ultimately grow enrollment by making a more positive impression on prospective students and their families.”

Moser said these upgrades are long overdue. 

“The quality of the facilities does not reflect the quality of the program,” Moser said. “We’re consistently ranked as a top-10 College of Agriculture nationally for all different kinds of metrics, but particularly for undergraduate student success. Our facilities are not in the top 10.”

Lauer said the maintenance projects will also address smaller and more practical issues around campus. 

“A lot of these are renovations, but then we get down into some of the more mundane types of work where we’re making repairs to a steam tunnel’s entrance, or we’re doing fume hood enhancements, or we’re doing things that are more tactical in nature, sort of at a ground level,” Lauer said.

Repairs to the steam tunnel will benefit the engineering school in particular, Matt O’Keefe, dean of the College of Engineering, said. 

“The steam tunnel is a facility, so it brings in steam that’s used to heat the building itself,” O’Keefe said. “That’s part of heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It’s not very controlled right now. … Think about things we might have like condensation, a little bit of water dripping. That’s not good when it’s by sensitive equipment.” 

O’Keefe said upgrades to Seaton Hall will also allow students to have a more efficient learning experience. 

“What you’ll see is greatly improved classroom facilities, greatly improved lab facilities and the ability for us to teach and students to learn using state-of-the-art facilities,” O’Keefe said. “Just as an example, one of the rooms we’re renovating in west Seaton Hall had the old drafting tables. Those are going to be gone. Those are going to be replaced by nothing but computers, and they’re upgraded and digital.” 

Lauer said the $12 million budget for the maintenance projects was funded by a joint effort between K-State and the governor’s office. 

“Half comes from the governor’s budget and it was allocated to K-State,” Lauer said. “The other half comes from campus. … The matching funds come from these colleges and departments individually. They’re meeting the needs halfway.” 

Lauer said the maintenance projects will be completed in a two-year timeframe. 

“The intent is to have 100% of these projects completed and expensed within the next two fiscal years,” Lauer said. “Within a year [there will be] substantial progress on all of them, but definitely within the next 24 months they will be complete wholeheartedly across the board.” 

Lauer said the maintenance projects are a small piece of a much larger initiative at K-State.

“We are on the front doorstep of launching our campus master-plan update, which is a really comprehensive overlay … of what we want campus to embody … until 2030, seven to 10 years, give or take,” Lauer said. “How do we make the decisions moving forward to get us to that point within the built environment? The timing is really good for something like this to kind of take off, considering all these other plans in play.”