The University Center of Southern Oklahoma will be receiving a gift that will help with the construction of the new Health, Science and Math Center. 

 The board received information about the transfer of funding from the Ardmore Higher Education Center Maintenance Trust to the Southern Oklahoma Higher Education Foundation, Inc. The foundation would then distribute that money, up to $255,000, for capital improvements at the new center. 

UCSO board chair Gary Farabough said the funds would be used on “attachments to the building,” as the trust funds specify. The attachments include telephones, server and internet access points and similar systems. 

“This is a true gift,” Farabough said of the funds. He said while the transfer didn’t require board action, he wanted to discuss the funds with the board and recognize that the funds will go toward completion of the new UCSO building. The board unanimously approved a resolution addressing the funds. 

Two special guests were in attendance at the meeting, including Ardmore City Schools Superintendent Kim Holland. Holland addressed the board prior to any action items on the agenda, discussing the schools’ goals and the connection the two educational institutions have. 

“What we’re trying to do here in Ardmore is to create a school district that is a community,” Holland said. “And we want to have a school district that people can be proud of.” 

“We are all just one big family down here,” Farabough said of all the education institutions in the area. 

The board also welcomed East Central University student Katrina Pickens, who returned to college after nearly 20 years absence in 2010. Pickens said she recently finished her bachelor’s degree in human services and counseling and is working toward a master’s degree. She said being both a mother and having a job at Michelin, it was sometimes a challenge to work at school, but the school helped her through her journey. 

“It was kind of like dusting off shelves,” Pickens said. “I was able to go back and do that with flexibility. They pretty much helped me get through the process of getting back.” 

The board received an update on the new center following introduction of the guests, with Mark Andy, Miles Associates vice president, reporting the building is about 95 percent complete on the outside. Bill Owen, Fenix Constructors, Inc., said the building is “on schedule and on budget” and the interior should be completed by Dec. 14. He said overall construction has been keeping a steady pace toward completion. 

“It’s going well, we have a lot of work on the interior,” Owen said. “But we feel pretty confident we will have everything ready by Dec. 14.” 

UCSO plans to move some of its administration to the new building following its completion, a process that was discussed by the board and ultimately tabled. With the move, Ardmore City Schools and UCSO are working on a plan that would allow ACS to move some of its administrators into the open space created by the move. Holland said ACS would move about seven to nine individuals to the center.

The discussions are to determine where the different groups’ individuals will end up in the building.

“It was kind of like a musical chairs,” committee chair Cyd Jordan said. She reported to the board the discussions revolve around whether ACS would move into the west or east part of the building. One side of the building will require some renovation to be converted into office space and determining who will have to absorb those costs and move into that side of the building is being worked out by the groups. 

“We want to make this work for everybody,” Holland said at the meeting. 

“I think we’re on agreement with several things,” UCSO president Steve Mills said. “We just haven’t fully decided where everybody will be.

“We’re trying to get everybody under two roofs. It’s just determining who will be where.” 

Action on a transition plan was tabled for the next meeting.