The Mississippi Legislature’s authorization of $20 million in state bonds will help elevate a new nursing building at The University of Southern Mississippi from the planning stage to the construction phase.
Southern Miss will receive the funding this year which will expedite plans for the building – to be named Asbury Hall and built on the Hattiesburg campus. The official name has not yet been considered for approval by the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Board. Tentative plans call for construction to begin in 2014.
“We are extremely grateful to the Mississippi Legislature and other state officials who helped facilitate the issuing of much-needed bonds for construction of our new nursing building,” said Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett. “What began as an exciting vision for our renowned College of Nursing program now moves much closer to becoming a reality … one that will make all members of the Southern Miss family especially proud.”
The $20 million in bond money is designated for construction, furnishings, equipment and related necessities for the new nursing building. The bonds are issued via Senate Bill 2913 authored by Senate Finance Chairman and Southern Miss alumnus Joey Fillingane. Fillingane, along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith of Columbus, negotiated the final package with strong support from House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.
Asbury Hall will allow for an increase in nursing enrollment from the current 550 students to more than 800 and expand new programs in the College of Nursing through student interactive areas, an enlarged and enhanced clinical simulation lab, computer labs, and classrooms that will promote the acquisition of knowledge in a positive and interactive learning environment.
“The funding from the state will help support the College of Nursing’s mission of teaching, service, and research,” said Dr. Anita Boykins, assistant professor and program director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. “Funding will not only assist in the teaching mission but also advance and improve nursing practice and clinical practice scholarship.”
Last year the University launched a private fund-raising campaign to help support construction of a new home for the College of Nursing. The USM Foundation, in partnership with the University’s College of Nursing, kicked off the $8 million campaign to build a new facility with the announcement of a $4 million gift from the Asbury Foundation of Hattiesburg that provided naming rights for the building.
Last month Joe and Kathy Sanderson of Laurel, Miss., made a $1 million gift commitment to the project. To date the campaign has received $5.3 million in gifts and pledges.
Five million dollars of the $8 million campaign has been earmarked for construction with the remaining $3 million to be used for an endowment to support the long-term maintenance needs of the proposed 86,000 square foot building with a total project cost of $28 million. Asbury Hall will be located on the western edge of campus.
“We are very excited about the $20 million in bond funds for Asbury Hall and are grateful the Mississippi Legislature chose to make this a priority project in the 2013 bond bill,” said Bob Pierce, vice president for Advancement at Southern Miss. “We are also mindful, however, that it remains important for us to complete the $8 million campaign to support the new nursing facility. We believe our donors will remain dedicated to seeing the campaign through to fruition, and we hope to have it wrapped up before University officials break ground for Asbury Hall.”
For more information on the College of Nursing Building Campaign, contact the USM Foundation by calling 601.266.5210 or visiting www.usmfoundation.com/nursing.
To learn more about the Southern Miss College of Nursing, call 601.266.5454 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/nursing