The Rice Thresher
By Ellen Liu
After a summer of deliberation, grant and endowment proposals totaling nearly $3 million from the KTRU radio tower sale have been approved by the Asset Liquidation Funds Appropriation Committee and President David Leebron. The grants that were supported will go into effect this year while the endowments await approval by the Board of Trustees at their upcoming September meeting.
The majority of the KTRU sale funds were to be used for endowments, while a smaller portion was designated for short-term purposes, SA President Georgia Lagoudas said. The ALFA Committee was charged with gathering both undergraduate and graduate student input, and after receiving the proposals, it chose 16 of them and met monthly over the summer with administrators to estimate cost and feasibility, ALFA Committee member Lagoudas said.
In the end, the committee decided to set aside $25,000 for the Welcome Back Concert and passed four one-time grants and four endowment proposals, which were also approved by President Leebron, Lagoudas said.
The grants include $1 million dollars for the Visual and Dramatic Arts Building and Programs, $35,000 for an EMS cardiac monitor, $50,000 for an EMS emergency response vehicle and $420,000 for new intramural field lighting, Lagoudas said. She said Rice will start implementing these initiatives this year, and that students should expect changes soon.
The proposed endowments are $500,000 for Fondren Library and $300,000 each – with $15,000 up-front – for competitions of the Architecture Society @ Rice, the Alternative Spring Break program and additional cultural programming on campus, Lagoudas noted. ALFA will be presenting the endowment proposals at the next university Board of Trustees meeting in September, she said.
Lagoudas added that the committee also approved three other proposals, but they will be paid with funds from Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson. These projects included increased financial support of student-taught courses; health, wellness, and safety education; and sexual misconduct education, Lagoudas said.
One proposal that was not approved was the suggestion for an on-campus indoor rock-climbing wall, according to Lagoudas.
"While the initial proposal was for $100,000, the actual estimated cost was $250,000," Lagoudas said. "That and location, security, and safety issues have led us to withdraw the proposal for now."
Furthermore, Lagoudas added that the ALFA committee is still considering four other high-priority projects – additions to the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, a Concert Series endowment, enhancements to EMS volunteering training and various RMC renovations. She said the committee is still collecting and analyzing information on these proposals.
"For now, expect to see lighted recreation fields, new EMS equipment, and a few other projects going into effect this year!" Lagoudas said.
President of the Architecture Society @ Rice Sandra Marcatili said the proposal for their endowment had been submitted by Riley Neal, a graduate architecture student.
"I was surprised because I had not realized that Riley had submitted the proposal, but I was grateful for her taking the initiative and grateful to ALFA and President Leebron for recognizing the potential and approving the endowment," Marcatili, a Will Rice College senior, said.
The Architecture Society @ Rice will use the funds to give students the opportunity to spend a long weekend once a semester working together on a design problem, after which a jury assesses their results, Marcatili said.
"The endowment would allow us to actually construct the winning design, giving us the experience of this added dimension to the design process, as well as enhancing Rice campus with some of our designs," Marcatili noted.
Marcatili said she believed the Board of Trustees would also approve the proposal, given the support it has already received.
Rice Emergency Medical Services Director Lisa Basgall said REMS was delighted to have two approved grants from the ALFA committee. The funds will allow REMS to increase patient care and improve response capabilities, she said.
"Rice EMS already has the staffing necessary to provide increased coverage for the campus," Basgall said. "Funding of $50,000 will allow Rice EMS to purchase a new responder vehicle, continuing its mission to continuously serve the students, faculty, staff and visitors on a full-time basis with quality emergency medical services."
REMS plans to have the new vehicle by the end of October and to buy a new heart monitor that can test a patient's heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and respiratory efficiency, Basgall said.
The volunteer training proposal REMS submitted requested $200,000 to help pay for EMT Basic and Advanced courses over the next five years, Basgall said. The funding would help EMS purchase equipment needed to teach an updated EMS curriculum and offer three classes per year to train more EMS providers among the students, faculty, and staff, she added.
"This will help REMS continue to provide the volunteer service that responded to 800 emergency calls last year," Basgall said.