About the New University House

University House Rendering 2 University House Rendering 1 University House Rendering 3

How did the idea for a new University House come about?

In the fall of 2008, the PSU Foundation Board of Trustees expressed concern to then- university president Tom Bryant about the condition of the president's home.  For many years, Foundation Trustees had been guests in the president's home and knew firsthand how inadequate the facility was for entertaining an ever-growing number of university alumni and friends.  With a presidential search underway, the PSU Foundation Board encouraged the university to evaluate the capacity of the existing facility to serve the institution's needs.

Why did the university decide to construct a new University House rather than renovate the existing president's home?

Following the request from the PSU Foundation to evaluate the capacity of the president's home to meet the needs of the university, Pittsburg State began studying the facility on two fronts: programming needs and structural condition.  Committees were formed for each area and throughout the spring 2009, these two groups worked to evaluate the current status of the president's home.

The results from the programming committee found that the president's home, constructed as a single-family residence in 1954, was insufficient to meet the constituent engagement needs of the university.  Over the years, as funding from the State of Kansas has decreased as a percentage of the overall university budget and private gifts have become more important to the current and future needs of the institution, the president's home has been thrust into a role as a place to entertain constituents that it was never intended to fulfill.

The structural committee found numerous deficiencies, including numerous mold/moisture issues, single-pane windows, deteriorating shake shingle roof, inadequate/deteriorating plumbing and electrical system, and the presence of asbestos and other hazardous materials.  Based on both committees' reports, the university's Master Planning Committee made a recommendation to the university president to move forward with a plan to either renovate or replace the existing president's home.

A 2009 study by the architectural firm Howard & Helmer found that the cost of renovating the president's home would be nearly as much as demolishing that structure and building a new, more functional University House on the same site.  Based on those findings, the university decided to pursue private funding to construct a new University House.

What is the difference between the president's home and a University House?

The term 'president's home' refers to the single-family structure constructed in 1954 for the sole purpose of housing the university president and his or her family.  The Kansas Board of Regents requires each chancellor or president to live in university-provided housing on campus.  The term 'university house' implies a structure with a much broader mission of serving as a facility to entertain constituents, house overnight guests, and also serve as a residence for the president of Pittsburg State University.  Based on the university's intention to have this new structure meet a wider variety of institutional needs besides simply housing the president and his or her family, PSU has chosen to label this facility University House.

How does the size of the new University House compare the former president's home?

The single-family residence constructed in 1954 to house the presidents of Pittsburg State University and their families had approximately 4,200 square-feet of living space.   The new University House will contain space for the president's residence of approximately 3,200 square-feet - a smaller amount of living space in the new University House than was available in the former president house.   The space in the new University House designated for entertaining guests, which it completely separate from the president's residence, is approximately 3,300 square-feet.  Combining the space for entertaining guests with the space designated as a residence for the university president results in 6,500 total square-feet of space in the new University House.

How is the new University House being paid for?

Private donors are providing 100% of the cost to demolish the former president's home and construct and furnish the new University House.  No state appropriated funds or student tuition dollars are being used for any portion of the project.  Donors who make gifts in support of the new University House are being asked to sign a pledge that clearly states that gifts to the University House project will not impact their current or future gifts to any other part of the university.  This language was inserted in the pledge document in an effort to communicate to donors the fact that private gifts for scholarships, program support, and other capital construction projects, most notably the Fine and Performing Arts Center, should not be diminished by their participation in the funding of the new University House.

What is the total cost of this project?

The budget for constructing the new University House is $1,750,000.  Other associated costs such as demolition of the former president's home, architect's fees, landscaping, parking, and furnishings for the new house are approximately $500,000.  The total cost of the project is, therefore, $2,250,000.

Has the cost of the project increased from what was originally projected?

Yes.  The cost of constructing the new University House was originally projected to be $1.5 million.  However, in the wake of the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri in May 2011, a change was made to the project that increased the costs.  In the original plans for the University House, the structure was to be built over a crawl space with no basement.  After noting that the Joplin community had but 15 minutes to respond to a tornado warning before the storm struck, Pittsburg State University decided to add two basement rooms as storm shelters.  The first basement room is located under the public side of the house and is designed to accommodate approximately 100 guests.  The second basement room is located under the residence side of the University House and is intended to accommodate the president and his/her family only.  The increased cost associated with adding these two basement rooms is $250,000 - the total amount of increase for the project since inception.  The addition of these two basement rooms reflects a new appreciation for the speed and strength of severe storms and the University's obligation to provide a safe environment for guests at the University House and for the president and his/her family while in residence.

How much money has been raised so far for the new University House?

As of September 29, 2011, $2 million has been received or committed by private donors for the construction of a new University House.  Fundraising is ongoing to raise the remaining $250,000.  This money will be used to furnish the University House upon completion.  All funds needed for construction have either been received or committed by private donors.  The PSU Foundation will receive and manage these private gifts until they are paid out for construction of the new University House.

When will the new University House be completed?

Construction of the new University House began during the summer of 2011.  With approximately twelve months needed to construct the new facility, it is estimated that the University House will be completed in the fall of 2012 - four years after the process began.

Why is a new University House a priority for Pittsburg State University?

The University House will play a much broader role in the future of Pittsburg State University than simply serving as a place for the president and his or her family to live.  A University House with sufficient entertainment space will assist PSU in the recruitment of students and faculty, the entertainment and engagement of alumni and friends for fundraising purposes, and as an economic development tool for the community (i.e., assisting the local hospital in recruiting a new physician to Pittsburg).  In addition, the new University House will allow Pittsburg State University to house VIP guests overnight, something that was possible, but impractical in the existing president's home.

From a programming perspective, what were the shortcomings of the president's home?

The president's home had approximately 4,200 square feet of living space.  Considered large in 1954 when it was constructed solely as a residence for the PSU president, in recent years the home had become insufficient in an age of increased expectations for the president to entertain and engage constituents at his or her campus home.  While the president's home could accommodate 85 guests at a standing reception, the layout and flow of the rooms made such a number uncomfortable for guests and unmanageable for staff.  Sit-down dinners could be staged for up to 28 guests, but required the furniture from four rooms to be removed and stored in the garage, and guests to be spread throughout the house for dinner.  More intimate sit-down dinners could be held in the main dining room, but only for eight guests. 

Another issue resulting from the original design of the president's home as a single family residence was the lack of privacy for the president's family.  The hundreds of guests who attended events at the president's home used the family's restrooms - there were no public restrooms in the home, only the bathrooms used every day by the family.  When Sodexo Campus Services came to the president's home to cater meals and events, they used the same kitchen as the family, causing this space to be unavailable to the family prior to and after events.  Overnight guests slept in bedrooms immediately next door to the president and his spouse and shared a bathroom with the family.  Such a lack of private space was a significant issue when you consider the fact that the president and his or her spouse are the focus of attention nearly everywhere they go, on campus or off.  Coming 'home' to a facility that lacked privacy created a stressful environment for the president and his or her family.

The overall physical limitations of the president's home detailed above impacted the university's ability to entertain the growing number of alumni, friends, and community leaders needed to assist the institution in fulfilling its mission and achieving its strategic goals.  Also, it was felt that the facility's complete lack of privacy for the university's first family was a long-term issue in recruiting and retaining future presidents to the PSU campus.

How will the new University House address those shortcomings?

Thanks to gifts from private donors, an architect was engaged to create preliminary plans for the new University House.  This new facility will be comprised of three primary areas: entertaining space, living space for the PSU president and his or her family, and guest accommodations for visiting dignitaries.  The university's intent was to create a facility that could accommodate up to 115 guests at indoor standing receptions and sit-down dinners for up to 50 guests, both of which would be held in a single large event space.  More intimate sit down dinners will be staged in a dining room that can accommodate up to 20 guests.  In addition, the facility would have a guest suite for overnight VIP guests, situated away from the family's private living space with a separate entrance, facilitating greater privacy. 

The portion of the home dedicated to living space for the university president and his or her family will be approximately the same size as the remainder of the house used for entertaining and overnight guests, but smaller than the living space available in the former president's home.  A living room, kitchen and dining room, along with three bedrooms (one master and two for children or family guests) would constitute the majority of the space.  Private laundry and bathroom facilities would complete the family portion of the project.

What role has PSU President Steve Scott played in this effort?

The decision to pursue construction of a new University House was made prior to Dr. Scott becoming the ninth president of Pittsburg State University.  Since that time, Dr. Scott and his wife Cathy have had no role in decisions related to this project nor have they played any role in the fund-raising effort for the University House.  Dr. Scott has stated publicly on several occasions his plans to stay removed from any decisions related to the design of this project.  Dr. Brad Hodson, vice president for university advancement and Mr. John Patterson, vice president for administration and campus life, are leading the project on behalf of Pittsburg State University.

Where are President and Mrs. Scott currently living?

At the time of Dr. Scott's appointment as president of Pittsburg State University in 2009, the Kansas Board of Regents suspended the requirement that he live in university-provided housing.  Currently, Dr. and Mrs. Scott reside in a leased house where they host events on behalf of Pittsburg State University for students, alumni and members of the university community.  Dr. and Mrs. Scott plan to move into the new University House immediately upon completion.

Who should we contact for more information regarding the University House?

The following individuals are available to answer questions regarding this project:

Dr. Brad Hodson
Vice President for University Advancement
221 Russ Hall  
Pittsburg State University    
Pittsburg, Kansas  66762 

Phone: 620-235-4762
E-mail: bhodson@pittstate.edu
Mr. John Patterson
Vice President for Administration and Campus Life
 205 Russ Hall
Pittsburg State University
Pittsburg, Kansas  66762

Phone: 620-235-4107
E-mail: jpatters@pittstate.edu