The Stone Center on SIU campus

The Stone Center, which was originally built in 1971 as a residence for the school's president, has housed the offices of the SIU system president since 1998.

CARBONDALE -- Changes may be on the horizon for the SIU president's offices.

The Stone Center, which was originally built in 1971 as a residence for the school's president, has housed the offices of the SIU system president since 1998.

But the facility needs upgrades to meet code requirements, particularly with the four sleeping rooms in the facility.

In its current configuration, the Stone Center is not able to house all system personnel, with some working out of houses on Chautauqua Street and others finding office space in an area of the Stone Center known as "The Garage."

SIU President Randy Dunn said nothing needs to be done immediately, but suggested the Board of Trustees look into various options to develop a long-term plan.

One option on the table is moving personnel from houses on Chautauqua Street into offices converted from the sleeping rooms at the Stone Center.

Dunn said that would satisfy the need to "get all the Carbondale-based system employees in one space," but would cost about $500,000.

The school also could rehab one of the Greek Row buildings to house system offices or move into an already renovated house on Greek Row once Woody Hall renovations make it possible for some offices currently on Greek Row to relocate there.

Renovating one of the Greek Row buildings would cost more than $2 million, but Dunn said time is not an issue, suggesting any move could wait until the Woody Hall renovations have been completed.

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"We can wait that out and that may be a cheaper alternative that serves both purposes of getting us into one place, but at the same time saves some money in that we're not having to start from scratch as we would in some of the buildings as you've noticed on Greek Row," Dunn said.

The sleeping rooms in the Stone Center do afford the luxury of housing trustees and guests while on campus.

"It does provide opportunity for someone who has to come to the university during the period of time that there's an event going on and all the hotels are full and there aren't any places to stay, to fall back on those four rooms at the Stone Center," Trustee Don Lowery said. 

Trustee Joel Sambursky suggested, however, the housing luxury may not be one the school can afford.

"If there's a cost savings to taking away the living component at the Stone Center, I would certainly be in favor of that ... If that utility costs a million dollars, you can get a lot of hotel rooms for that," Sambursky said.

The Stone Center's construction more than 40 years ago was marred by controversy, devolving into a financial boondoggle that was rescued by a $1 million donation by Chicago philanthropist W. Clement Stone.

Dunn told the trustees he doesn't want to create a fresh controversy surrounding the Stone Center, but said a plan does need to be developed.

"The optics look like a new president is coming in and pushing to get new digs," Dunn said. "That's not the case, but we have to figure out what we do with Greek Row. If we keep investing in Stone Center for system offices, we need to get out of those houses on Chautauqua." 

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