Journalism program likely contender for move

With the Department of Public Health relocating to a new facility, many are wondering which department will take its place. The journalism program could be moving from the top floor of the RUC to the Public Health building, where it would share space with the communications department and the childcare center. The Public Health Building became Tech’s property Jan 1.

“That building and the ground it sits on has been under a fifty-year lease with the state of Tennessee and the Department of Public Health since the mid-1970s,” Glenn Binkley, interim associate vice president of Facilities and Business Services, said.

That lease was terminated Jan. 1 because they built a new building at a different location. If journalism is chosen to replace Public Health, The Oracle and WTTU would have to move also, both of which are now centrally located on campus.

“The only entity that’s 100 percent going to be in that building is the child care program in Matthews-Daniel,” Binkley said.

The president of the provost has had many other inquiries about the use of the public health building, and journalism and communications are some of those.

“There was a consultant on campus that we took through just to show the lay of the land,” Binkley said, “but as far as saying that this group is definitely going to be in there and they are going to have so much room is ultimately up to the president of the provost.”

The Public Health building is in need of some renovation, especially to put a form of daycare in there. Between now and the first of March, a disclosed project will be turned in to the state legislature through the Tennessee Board of Regents informing them that Tech is using a certain amount of money to renovate this building for a certain purpose. That then has to be mended to the governor’s budget to the legislature.

After legislature passes the bill, anything over $100,000 goes to the building commission. An architect or engineer is then assigned to the project. The architect or engineer must come through the Board of Regents because the board owns all state facilities in public education. Four to six months is then set aside for the design process.

“A disclosed project by definition is money that’s not state appropriations,” Binkley said. “That money originates from the campus.”

A disclosed project can come from federal grants and contracts, fundraising the campus has done or revenue.

“Housing units are 100 percent revenue bonds,” Binkley said. “They have to pay back those bonds with the rent collected from the students.”

The decision about filling and renovating the Public Health building should be during this semester, but the earliest anyone will make the move is Fall 2012.