CARBONDALE — Each year, Illinois public universities submit a wish list of building upgrades to the lawmakers crafting the state’s budget.
For 22 years, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s list has included renovations to its Communications Building. Now, finally, state support will make that long-held dream a reality.
On Tuesday, Governor JB Pritzker visited the Carbondale campus to announce the release of $8.3 million to begin the $83 million renovation and expansion.
A portion of that initial disbursement will be used to finish planning the construction, a process begun in Fiscal Year 2010, but derailed by the state budget impasse.
The updated plans, taking into account new needs and available technologies, should be complete within 18 months, said SIUC spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith.
The rest of the $83 million award will cover all remodel costs for the 229,050-square-foot building, including adding about 60,000 square feet of usable space, Goldsmith said. The work is expected to take about five years.
“Governor, you and other legislative leaders have made our patience worthwhile and given us renewed optimism for the future,” SIUC Provost Meera Komarraju said at a news conference Tuesday. “On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of SIU Carbondale, thank you.”
The communications building houses the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts, with programs in radio, television and digital media; journalism; cinema and photography; communication studies; and theater.
It is also home to WSIU Public Broadcasting, which operates five public television and three public radio stations, plus McLeod Theater.
The renovations will provide “new classroom space, fully equipped and flexible auditorium space, laboratory rooms, digital post-production suites, and reflect the growing trend towards media convergence in a combined broadcast-print newsroom,” the governor’s office indicated,
University leaders believe the state-of-the-art facilities will strengthen recruitment of students and faculty.
“With your continued leadership we anticipate seeing a larger number of Illinois high school students choose to stay in the Land of Lincoln for college,” Komarraju said. “This project has given them one more reason to do so.”
In total, Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois capital plan, the first in nearly a decade, calls for $45 billion in investment in roads, bridges, railways, universities, early childhood centers and broadband over the next six years, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. It is anticipated to create about 540,000 jobs, the Pritzker Administration believes.