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Total tobacco products ban one step closer to passage at Marshall

Apr. 19, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Banning all tobacco products on Marshall University's main campus is one step closer to passage.

Marshall's Board of Governors approved a resolution Thursday that moves the proposed ban to a public comment period that lasts until May 21. The final proposal will be presented at the board's June meeting. If approved, the ban will take effect July 1.

The proposal faced no opposition during the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting before the full board meeting. It has already been approved by the Student Senate, Classified Staff Council and Faculty Senate.

Amy Saunders, director of student health education programs at Marshall, said the proposal is a reflection of a 2012 survey of faculty and staff. Of the 370 respondents in that survey, 74 percent said they want Marshall's campus, including all university-owned grounds and parking facilities, to be smoke-free. Broadening the policy to all tobacco products makes enforcement easier, she said.

Penalties for violating the policy will be determined by the Board of Governors when it votes on the policy in June.

An increasing number of colleges are passing tobacco bans on their campuses, Saunders said. More than one-fourth of the 3,000-plus campuses across the country have adopted full bans, she said. West Virginia University's Board of Governors approved a ban on its main campus in Morgantown last June, making it effective July 1 of this year.

Part of the new policy called for officials to educate students and employees this current school year about the ban and make sure they are aware of cessation opportunities available to them. Similar efforts are ongoing at Marshall, President Stephen Kopp said. He also noted the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy have already banned smoking on their campuses.

Student Body President and board member Ray Harrell Jr. said he supports the ban for a number of reasons. He cited feedback from Marshall's facilities department that it spends approximately four hours a day picking up cigarette butts and other tobacco products on campus.

The ban also would prohibit smoking on Joan C. Edwards Stadium's west lot, a popular tailgating spot for football games.

In other business Thursday, board members received an update from SmithGroup JJR, an architectural firm that is preparing a 10-year master plan for Marshall. The plan is a 12-month process that assesses current conditions and future needs related to property, buildings, roadways, parking, transportation, pedestrian access and landscaping.

Through various stakeholder meetings, the firm's preliminary ideas include demolishing Hodges Hall, Holderby Hall and Laidley Hall to make way for modern student housing, said Mary Jukuri, a representative for SmithGroup. Hodges Hall could be demolished as soon as this summer.

Considerable renovations need to be made to the Cam Henderson Center, Gullickson Hall, Science Hall, Jenkins Hall and Prichard Hall, while additions could be made to the Memorial Student Center and Twin Towers, Jukuri said.

There also is an emphasis on landscaping, gateways and wayfinder signs on campus while also trying to improve pedestrian safety, Jukuri said.

The master plan will be presented to the state Higher Education Policy Commission for final approval in November. Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to provide input on the master plan and learn more about the process at www.marshall.edu/mplan.

Here's a look at other actions taken during Thursday's meeting:

INDOOR PRACTICE FACILITY: The board also voted unanimously to award a construction contract to J&H Reinforcing & Structural Erectors of Portsmouth, Ohio, to build the indoor practice facility and connected facilities next to Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The company submitted the low bid of $16.35 million, which was $50,000 under budget, according to Athletic Director Mike Hamrick. The contract includes the construction of the indoor practice facility and the shells for the student-athlete academic support center, athletics hall of fame and the sports medicine translational research center. Those facilities will be built once funding becomes available, Hamrick said.

The projects, including the new soccer complex under construction on 5th Avenue, are being paid for with $10 million in bond revenue and $20 million in private donations through Marshall's Vision Campaign. Hamrick said the campaign recently surpassed $15 million. The groundbreaking for the indoor practice facility is 2 p.m. Friday, April 26.

MEDICAL SCHOOL: Joseph Shapiro, dean of the medical school, told the board's Academic and Student Affairs Committee that the Liaison Committee on Medical Education will make a site visit June 23-26 to review how the school has addressed several areas of noncompliance that led to it being placed on probation in October 2011.

The medical school has remained fully accredited under probationary status, meaning it continues to educate students, train residents and provide patient care without interruption.

Noncompliance areas include scholarship support that is well below the national mean, limited programs and practices to support student well-being, and not making efforts to either broaden diversity among medical school applicants or recruit faculty and students from demographically diverse backgrounds.

"We've done quite a bit of work to address the citations," Shapiro said. "I fully expect to be able to say that we will be off probation when the LCME meets in October to review our site visit."

NEW PROGRAM: Board members unanimously approved the creation of a master's degree program in public administration that will begin next fall. The program is the product of the colleges of Business and Liberal arts working with four departments, said Marybeth Beller, associate professor and chairwoman of the Political Science Department. The program will be revenue neutral and won't require additional resources, she said.

The program will provide graduate training in academic research and service to prepare students for leadership positions in both the nonprofit and public sectors.