Neptune to be renovated


Neptune Residence Hall North sits on Lucinda Ave. in the middle of campus near the Holmes Student Center. The building is to be renovated before the fall 2017 semester.

By Lindsey Salvatelli

DeKALB — A more detailed description of the Neptune Residence Hall renovation will be addressed during a March 9 Board of Trustees meeting.

During a Thursday Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a capital project request for a design plan to upgrade Neptune. Renovations are projected to be completed before the fall 2017 semester.

The committee intends to incorporate portions of a 2015 concept study to upgrade the residence hall for the fall semester.

Between January 2015 and May 2015, the concept study estimated costs for a full renovation to be $47 million, according to a Finance, Facilities, and Operations Committee report.

Renovations explored in the study that are proposed to be included in the project include “common areas of the entrances, lounges and dining spaces through a combination of floor/wall treatments and furniture improvements” and may “include individual floor and/or room improvements” if funding is available, according to the report.

Funding for the project comes from the Build America Bond — federal funding that’s provided to the Illinois Capital Development Board.

The Capital Development Board oversees the design, construction, repair and renovation of 8,771 publicly funded facilities, according to its website.

John Heckmann, associate vice president for facilities management and campus services, requested $5.4 million in funding for design and construction elements for the project, which the board approved.

Alan Phillips, vice president for administration and finance, said analysis shows Neptune Residence Hall, which is the lowest-priced, on-campus living option, has the highest vacancy rate.

The renovation project is an effort to enhance the residence hall’s desirability, as NIU seeks to fill vacancies.

“This is a strong indication that this residential hall requires a renovation investment to make it a more attractive housing option for students,” Phillips said.

Trustee Eric Wasowicz used the open discussion to ask about the cost to air-condition Neptune.

President Doug Baker referenced the 2015 study and said the estimated costs to provide air conditioning to the building would be around $20 million — a cost NIU can’t afford, Baker said.

Interim Chief Financial Officer approved

The board approved Lawrence Pinkelton, associate vice president for finance and budget, as the board’s treasurer and the interim chief financial officer. Pinkelton will temporarily replace the vacancy Phillips will leave when he retires March 1.

“He will be sitting in this chair next time,” Phillips said during the meeting.

Provost Lisa Freeman said NIU officials sought search firm Witt/Keiffer to find an individual outside of NIU to permanently fill the position due to the firm’s expertise and experience in filling chief financial officers at other universities.

Some factors that contributed to human resource officials’ decision to seek outside candidates include ”the desire to bring in mixed perspective, the desire to bring in experience in aspects of higher education and our discipline beyond what’s in the internal discipline pool,” Freeman said during the meeting.

Lindsey Salvatelli is a staff writer. She can be reached at [email protected].