Three disciplines that train people to keep the peace, aid the troubled and uplift the underserved have a new home at Middle Tennessee State University just in time for the fall 2020 semester.
University officials and state and local representatives were on campus Tuesday, Aug. 18, for the official ribbon-cutting at the new Academic Classroom Building that will house classrooms and offices for the departments of Criminal Justice Administration, Psychology and Social Work in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.
With all attendees clad in face masks and social distancing in evidence, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee noted the country’s current desperate need of skilled personnel in these three disciplines.
“With the wide-ranging health and economic impact associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the call for social justice, we are teaching frontline workers to become trained experts in these intersecting disciplines,” McPhee said.
At a total project cost of $39.6 million, the 91,200-square-foot building was designed by Bauer Askew and erected by Turner Construction, which finished the project in 23 months with support from MTSU Campus Planning. The state committed $35.1 million and MTSU contributed $4.5 million to build the facility.
The building includes 14 classrooms and five computer class laboratories, providing a total of 900 class and lab seats. Fourteen smaller, discipline-specific and research rooms with an additional 87 student stations also are part of the facility.
In pointing out that the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences was created 10 years ago this week, the dean, Harold “Terry” Whiteside, said the college has the “largest footprint” on campus because it occupies six buildings. However, now it has its own headquarters.
“Our faculty will now be where the students are, and that is so important for the education and the mentoring,” Whiteside said.
State Sen. Shane Reeves, who graduated from MTSU in 1991, represented the area’s legislative delegation at the event. He expressed excitement at his alma mater’s advancement, especially in the three disciplines that will share the new building.
“The students that graduate from these programs will clearly enhance the safety and the well-being and the quality of life of the wider community here and throughout the state and throughout the Southeast,” Reeves said.
Board of Trustees Chair Stephen Smith echoed McPhee’s praise for state officials for their longstanding support to secure funding for the university’s capital projects, saying “you have to have an advocate to make this happen.”
Speaking for his fellow chairs, Mary McElderry in Social Work and Greg Schmidt in Psychology, interim Criminal Justice Administration Chair Lee Wade emphasized the state-of-the-art facilities that students will be using inside the building to facilitate the hands-on learning that prepares scholars for the labor force.
“Psychology will now have labs involving EEG (electroencephalogram) research (to test for brain wave activity), eye tracking, sound test rooms and quantitative computer labs,” Wade said. “Social Work and Criminal Justice have hands-on testing rooms for practicums related to those disciplines.”
Within his own discipline, Wade highlighted a new facility for training tomorrow’s first responders to handle society’s crises according to the best practices available.
“Our mock command center provides hands-on experience for future emergency management professionals,” Wade said. “Students can run through table-top exercises as if they are in an emergency operations center in real life.”
The three departments, along with Health and Human Performance, Human Sciences and Nursing, make up the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, which was created to provide a structure for disciplines that produce caregivers and community servants.
For more information about the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, contact Whiteside at email@example.com or visit https://mtsu.edu/cbhs/index.php.
— Gina Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)