Mercer trustees approve plans for new sciences building

Staff reportApril 28, 2014 

Mercer University’s board of trustees authorized plans for a new $30 million undergraduate sciences building on the Macon campus during its meeting Friday.

The board authorized the university to finalize architectural and construction plans and complete fundraising for the new building, which will be located in what will become a science quadrangle on the Macon campus.

The building, about 120,000 square feet, will be located next to the School of Medicine and across College Street from the Jack Tarver Library and the existing Willet Science Center, which will be renovated as part of the project, according to a statement from the university.

The School of Engineering and the Science and Engineering Building will be the other facilities that are part of the science quad.

“We’ve had, over the last few years, increasing enrollment in our science programs,” said Larry Brumley, senior vice president for marketing communications and chief of staff. “They have been growing pretty rapidly, and we’re beginning to run out of space.”

So, officials decided it was time for a new building with updated, state-of-the-art laboratories for undergraduate research. But, first, funds must be found.

The project recently garnered a multimillion dollar donation from Mercer alumnus and Macon businessman A.V. Elliott, and the board also approved fund-raising efforts to continue. With the recent approval of the board, the project likely will progress rapidly over the next few months, Brumley said.

The new building will continue what has been a wave of construction on or near the Mercer campus in recent years, from a football stadium to new buildings for student housing.

Trustees also:

• Approved a $229 million operating budget for the coming fiscal year, which represents an increase of nearly $7 million, or 3.1 percent. Tuition increases are 2 percent for Mercer’s undergraduate programs, and 1 to 6 percent for some graduate programs. Students in the Walter F. George School of Law and the School of Medicine will see no increase in tuition next year.

• Authorized the university to proceed with expansion of its medical education facility on the Savannah campus. The project involves the School of Medicine acquiring a controlling interest in the Hoskins Research Building from Memorial University Medical Center, as well as modifications to the building to provide for additional research and office space, classrooms, and relocation of the medical library. It will also include construction of a new 31,000-square-foot addition to the Hoskins Building to house medical school exam rooms for clinical training, simulation labs, tutorial rooms, student study spaces and a student lounge.

Expansion of the medical education facility will allow the School of Medicine to increase the number of medical students in Savannah from 160 to 240.

• Approved several new majors and degree programs across the university.

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