Editor’s Note: In a national story published in the Chronicle of Education, Kutztown University faculty raised concerns regarding the conditions of some of KU’s buildings on campus. University Relations released the following statement in response to the KU community.
A message from Kutztown University President Dr. Kenneth Hawkinson
To the Kutztown University Community: Response to Chronicle of Higher Education Article
An article was published Wednesday in the Chronicle of Higher Education wherein a number of KU employees and former employees raised concern about deferred maintenance issues on campus, particularly with regard to Lytle Hall and Old Main. The health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount. Given the importance of ensuring our university is a safe place to learn, live and work, the following information outlines our specific efforts.
Since July 1, 2015, we have invested more than $13 million into maintenance projects at Kutztown University (if we included auxiliary renovations, the investment is an additional $36 million). KU has been acknowledged by the State System as a leading university for the amount of money we devote to maintenance and the high quality of our physical plant. If anyone walks around our campus they will see the beauty of our grounds and the continual upkeep we perform on our roofs, facades, sidewalks, landscaping, underground steam lines, and HVAC systems in our buildings. Our buildings range in age from 10 to 125 years old and it takes a continual effort and investment to stay in front of the maintenance needs of our campus infrastructure. For example, this summer we invested $2.5 million in repairs of our buildings and grounds to include: repairs to the campus steam distribution system, classroom renovation in Old Main to address water issues, preventative maintenance sweeps of all residence halls making needed repairs, the creation of a lab in Rickenbach Learning Center for the new social media program, a total renovation of the nearly 60-year-old Rothermel Hall, refurbishment of elevators in the Graduate Center and Johnson Hall, further repairs to Lytle Hall, and many other projects.
Lytle Hall has had ongoing maintenance issues that have been addressed. We are on the list of authorized projects to build a new Lytle Hall with a commitment of $17.5 million from the state and $6 million from Kutztown University. However, we invested $2 million in a new HVAC system last summer and, as I noted above, additional resources this summer. Please know that alternative office space is available to anyone who does not want to work in Lytle Hall. Old Main is 125 years old and a full renovation occurred in 1996. Since 2015, we have spent nearly $2 million on maintenance for this historic building. DeFrancesco Hall has been funded for a total renovation costing $15 million from the state, and $2.5 million from Kutztown University. Our physical plant staff are in continual contact with the faculty and staff who work in these facilities to address any further concerns. The air quality has been tested repeatedly by outside experts and no health risks have been found. Our buildings and infrastructure have challenges and we are committed to addressing them. These challenges are not unique to Kutztown University, but occur on campuses everywhere.
Finally, I write to commend and appreciate the physical plant workers, and so many others on our campus, who are tireless in their effort to make our campus a safe and healthy place to learn, live, and work.
Should anyone on campus have a concern regarding any of the issues addressed in this letter, please contact your college dean, supervisor, or appropriate university official. My very best wishes to you all.