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Saturday, April 01, 2023
<p>Spectators and security staff use the Stephen C. O’Connell Center before the volleyball game Thursday.</p>

Spectators and security staff use the Stephen C. O’Connell Center before the volleyball game Thursday.

UF is looking to secure legislative funding for buildings, expand Greek housing and the possibility of adding a faculty parking garage.

These projects and goals for the university were discussed at UF’s board of trustees meeting Thursday.

O’Connell Center

The Stephen C. O’Connell Center’s $64.5- million renovation will officially begin in March at the end of the men’s basketball season.

Construction will include the addition of a brick facade to the main entrance of the arena. It will also add cushioned seats, improved Wi-Fi capability, a new scoreboard and new lights, said Curtis Reynolds, UF vice president of business affairs.

A new concourse will be built courtside, he said, which will allow fans to purchase concessions without missing any of the action.

He said the O’Connell Center hasn’t been renovated since 1980.

"It’s just bringing it up to modern aesthetics," he added.

McCarty faculty parking garage

There may be a new faculty and staff parking garage in the works.

The garage, while still just a concept, would be located at the McCarty Hall parking lot, Reynolds said.

Although the plans are still subject to change, the garage would cost between $11.1 million and $13.8 million, he said.

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Because the demand for additional parking among students has leveled out, faculty and staff will be prioritized in the planning of this garage, said Craig Hill, UF associate vice president of business affairs.

"That’s where the demand growth has been," he said.

However, some students, like Devin O’Connell, think UF needs to prioritize student parking.

"If you compare the amount of faculty to the amount of students," the 19-year-old UF nursing sophomore said. "I think that’s your answer right there."

Glenn Israel, a UF professor of agricultural education and communication, said he thinks the addition of a faculty garage in the middle of campus would shorten his daily walk from his car to classes. He said recent construction projects have taken away parking spaces from faculty members.

"It seems like more and more parking spaces are being taken over," he said.

Legislative funding

Vice President of University Relations Jane Adams said UF plans to request about $66 million from the Legislature during the legislative session in January. This includes $20.5 million to complete the Engineering Nexus Building and $8 million for a Norman Hall renovation.

UF’s request also includes $10 million for the preeminence initiative, the university’s effort to recruit esteemed faculty. Adams said the initiative has been successful so far, and UF wants to keep it going.

"We were able to attract so many qualified and distinguished professors," she said.

Board of trustees member Charles Edwards said he hopes UF establishes a better relationship with state senators to secure more funding.

"I think for education in Florida, particularly higher education, the time to strike is the next couple of years," he said.

Greek housing

A motion to expand Greek housing was passed by the board of trustees. Three 1-acre plots of land west of Hume Hall will be used.

Spectators and security staff use the Stephen C. O’Connell Center before the volleyball game Thursday.

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