Trustees propose changes to Six-Pack

By Courtney Klemm

The Six-Pack area will look drastically different in a couple years following a major renovation, according to a presentation given to the Board of Trustees at their Urbana meeting Thursday.

Two Six-Pack dining halls will be torn down, and two new residence halls will be constructed nearby, creating a new Quad area in the middle of the Six-Pack, according to the presentation by Mackey Mitchell, a St. Louis consulting firm.

The residence halls within the Six-Pack, as well as Barton, Lundgren, Taft and Van Doren residence halls account for 42 percent of housing for freshmen and sophomores, according to the presentation.

Starting later this year, the Illini Orange building will be demolished, and construction will start on a new dining hall and residential programs building in its place. At the same time, ground will be broken for a new residence hall on the empty field on the corner of First Street and Peabody Drive. The buildings are scheduled to be completed by 2009, according to the presentation.

Peabody Drive and Gregory dining halls will be torn down in 2007, the plan stated. Construction on the new Quad is scheduled to be finished by 2010.

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    The goal of the renovation, which is estimated to cost $105 million, is to create one common dining hall and a new Quad space surrounded by dorms on the 30,000-acre property, according to Mackey Mitchell.

    The Board’s only concern was staying on schedule for the proposed plan.

    “I think we need to spend a little time, maybe six, eight or ten weeks, establishing a project control system to establish project time,” said Trustee Niranjan Shah. “Otherwise we will run into the same problems as with IMPE (Intramural Physical Education Building).”

    IMPE renovations have been delayed for months because the initial construction bid on renovating the building wasn’t accepted due to budget constraints.

    The project also calls for the relocation of Beckwith Hall residents and their personal assistants to the main floor of one of these new residence halls. Students that live at Beckwith, which is off-campus at 201 E. John St., have severe physical disabilities.

    The Board also discussed student health insurance fees, especially for graduate students.

    Allergies and mental health costs are prevalent and expensive, board members said. Graduate students are given discounts for certain medication with their health card from the University, but many medications doctors prescribe are charged at full-price and students cannot afford them. The University is now looking at ways to inform students about switching to generic brands or alternatives to gain these discounts.

    The Board also reviewed the progress of the newly implemented UI-Integrate system. Richard Mendola, associate vice president, gave a presentation to the board that showed that the system has put the University $6 million under budget.

    Mendola said the University is still in the “shock” phase in implementing this system.

    “Typically companies change systems five to ten years. We waited 25 to 30,” Mendola said. “University employees grew up with (the previous) systems and we wiped them out all at once.”

    The chancellor search committee also reported to the Board that the search for a new University Chancellor was winding down.

    “We are to have a list of candidates to give to President (B. Joseph) White during the first week of April and we are essentially prepared to do so,” said James Anderson, head of the educational policy studies department and chair of the search committee for the new chancellor.

    The University has been searching for a new chancellor since Nancy Cantor left in June 2004 to become chancellor of Syracuse University in New York.

    In what has become a regular sight at Urbana board meetings, anti-Chief protesters filled the audience at the start of the meeting and blasted the board for not abolishing the controversial mascot.

    When the board attempted to pay tribute to former board member Earl Langdon Neal, who served as board president from 1971 to 1977, anti-Chief protesters began chanting loudly, drowning out board chair Lawrence Eppley. Eppley told the protesters they were being disrespectful.

    The protesters left soon afterwards.