University breaks ground on ‘green’ General Classroom Building

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Amidst the mid-morning Aug. 18 heat, construction, and traffic, a white tent stood in front of a mound of dirt, which will soon become the newest edition to the campus.

Tuesday marked the “official” beginning of the planned 18-month construction on the new “green” General Academic Classroom Building.

The building is set to be 88,000 square feet, and will be the new home of the University Studies, International Studies, and Honors Programs.

“Not only is it a high technology building,” Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. said.

“It will be a green facility, I received assurance of that just earlier today. We will seek LEED certification. This really is an outstanding building.”

The festivities began at approximately 10:30 a.m. in front of the construction site, next to the School of Education building.

Junior Class President Wayne Kimball Jr. presided as the master of ceremonies over the groundbreaking ceremony.

“This is a most momentous occasion,” Kimball said as he described the atmosphere of the ceremony during his opening.

With a price tag of $25 million, the facility will be the 61st project in the last 10 years on campus, with 58 of them being completed on time.

Inside this massive building will be two lecture halls, one, which can hold 70 students, and another that can hold 260 students.

There will also be 13 regular classrooms and two distance learning classrooms.

“This new project is estimated by economists to create roughly 922 jobs in the area,” Interim Provost Alton Thompson said.

“The team will be comprised of 25 percent minority construction businesses.”

After all special guests had been acknowledged, and all participants in the crowd welcomed, the ceremony shifted from under the protective tent to the dirt pile.

Martin and member’s of the Chancellor’s Cabinet and Board of Trustees each took their positions behind a golden shovel as they prepared to turn over the first shovels of dirt.

After a brief three-second countdown, each member dug up a sizable pile of dirt, and shoveled it out of the way, signifying the beginning of construction on the project.

Martin, the former Dean of the College of Engineering, quickly found himself at home as he took the controls of one of the CAT digging machines and scooped up some dirt.

“This building will bring much needed space to the campus,” Martin said.

“It is critical to providing the students the high quality, first rate education they need and deserve.” 

  • Dexter R. Mullins