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MTSU applauds governor’s funding for science...

MTSU applauds governor’s funding for science building

Middle Tennessee State University is applauding Gov. Bill Haslam’s Jan. 30 announcement that the University’s $126.7 million Science Building project has been included in his proposed 2012-13 budget.

“We are grateful to Governor Haslam for recognizing the importance of the Science Building project and including funding for its construction in this year’s budget proposal,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “As home to the state’s largest undergraduate student population, the Science Building is critical to our continuing efforts to provide Tennessee with graduates ready for the 21st century workforce.

“We appreciate the governor’s leadership as well as the encouragement and support we have received from the members of the General Assembly, especially our local delegation. And we thank the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for their help in moving this project forward.”

The planned MTSU Science Building, shown in this artist's rendering, will be located on the south side of campus adjacent to the James E. Walker Library on the site of the old Wood, Felder, Gore and Clement dorms. (illustration courtesy of Thomas Miller & Partners PLLC)

The new Science Building will provide more than 250,000 gross square feet of teaching, faculty and student research laboratories and collaborative learning spaces. 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.

In 1968, just after the Davis building opened, MTSU’s student head count was at 6,779. By fall 2011, the University’s enrollment was 26,442. That means MTSU has seen its head count increase almost four times with no increase in space for science education.

At least 80 percent of all MTSU students will take at least one class in the new building.

Science courses offered in the new building will serve academic programs beyond general education, biology and chemistry. Those additional programs include aerospace, agribusiness/agriscience, engineering technology, nursing, physics and astronomy, elementary education, teacher licensure in science education, wellness and exercise science in health and human performance, human sciences nutrition/food science/dietetics, geology, social work, and recording-industry production technology.

McPhee said the new Science Building will:

  • enable the University to address needs identified in the America Competes Act by creating additional science graduates to fill high-technology jobs and teach science and math in K-12 schools;
  • enhance middle Tennessee’s regional economy by providing technical entrepreneurs and researchers who launch small businesses through ideas and research;
  • make MTSU and the state more competitive for federal grants and contracts in all areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and
  • support greater collaboration with Oak Ridge National Labs through MTSU’s new science doctoral programs.

Haslam’s budget proposal included nearly $264 million to fund long-deferred capital-outlay projects in higher education, including:

  • $126.7 million for the MTSU Science Building, which was confirmed last year as the No. 1 capital priority of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Tennessee Board of Regents system;
  • $94 million for the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Strong Hall science lab; and
  • $24.1 million for a simulation center at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis.

MTSU already has received $16.8 million from the state for a campus chilling plant, distribution lines and planning for the Science Building project, as well as $1.7 million for site demolitions and other preparations.

For more information about the new MTSU Science Building, including full-color renderings of the project, visit mtsunews.com/sciencebuilding.


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