MTSU will break ground on its long-awaited $147 million Science Building on Thursday, May 3, with a ceremony that will feature Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and several other state officials.
The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. at the site for the new building, which is just west of the James E. Walker Library on the site of the old Wood, Felder, Gore and Clement dorms. Parking will be available behind the library and accessible from Alumni Drive; in case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the foyer of the Walker Library.
The event is open to the public and will be broadcast live on MTSU’s public radio station, WMOT-FM (89.5) and MT10, the university’s student TV channel (Comcast Channel 10).
Haslam included almost $127 million for construction of the Science Building in his 2012-13 state budget. The spending plan, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly late Monday, goes next to the governor for his approval.
Thursday's ceremony will include remarks by Haslam and Harwell, as well as Chancellor John Morgan of the Tennessee Board of Regents and two members of the Rutherford County legislative delegation, Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Joe Carr.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, along with Student Government Association President Jeremy Pointer and Dr. George Murphy, retired chair of the MTSU Biology Department, will speak on behalf of the University.
McPhee said construction on the new facility will begin immediately following the ceremony. The University hopes to have the building ready for classes by spring 2015.
The new MTSU Science Building will provide more than 250,000 gross square feet of teaching, faculty and student research laboratories and collaborative learning spaces. At least 80 percent of all MTSU students will take at least one class in the new building.
MTSU’s enrollment has almost quadrupled in the last 43 years—from 6,779 students in 1968 to 26,442 in fall 2011—with no increase in space for science education. The university’s existing Wiser-Patten Science Hall and Davis Science Building were built in 1932 and 1967, respectively, and have a combined total of only 75,332 net square feet.
The building has long been the No. 1 priority in the MTSU Capital Outlay Funding Request, the No. 1 priority in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Five-Year Capital Projects Plan and the TBR’s No. 1 capital project request.
About $20 million has already been spent to prepare for construction of the Science Building. That money provided for a new campus chilling plant, distribution lines, planning, site preparation and demolitions of the old dorms.