Proposed Interfaith Center to be moved to temporary spot

Northern Kentucky University announced in an April 9 meeting that the former University Bookstore on the ground floor of the University Center will not become a campus Interfaith Center.

The president’s dining room in the University Center will be used as a temporary solution.

Dean of Students Matt Brown said the University Center location was never intended to be a permanent solution.

He added that part of the preliminary master plan includes the acquisition of land to create an interfaith village where all religious organizations can be located.

In a letter from the Office of the President to the Interfaith Council, dated June 22, the Interfaith Council was promised 4,600 square feet of space. The letter says, “Allocation of space for campus ministries at the center of campus should reinforce our commitment to the importance of your work.”

Vice President of Administration and Finance Ken Ramey said the university still values the role of faith centers on campus and are working to find a meeting place.

Brown said there were two primary reasons for relocating the Interfaith Center. One reason is that there were only two groups that were large enough to be able to help fund furnishings.

The other reason is that the university thought the 4,600 square feet of space could be better utilized as classroom space. Currently the university is 30 percent underbuilt, Ramey said.

The former bookstore could become the offices of International Student Affairs and International Programs, Brown said. These two departments are in the process of merging.

Brown said the cost to renovate the space will be about $100,000.

Without the Interfaith Center, some campus organizations will be left without a place to meet when the John’s Hill Road construction projects get underway.

The Catholic Newman Center’s building on Johns Hill Road is one of many buildings and houses that will be purchased and demolished to make room for the widening project set to begin in 2009. Johns Hill Road is going to be widened and straightened to help ease the flow of traffic.

Father Gilbert Rutz, chaplain for the Catholic Newman Club, said the members of the Interfaith Council were notified in a meeting April 9.

He said they were invited to view the preliminary master plan, and at the end of the meeting, they were told they would not be getting the bookstore space.

Rutz said he was shocked by the news.

He added he does not know where the Newman Center will be when construction begins on Johns Hill Road.

The diocese of Covington currently owns the building the Newman Club occupies. It is included in the land package that will be purchased as part of the Johns Hill Road expansion.