Bulldozers, backhoes, cranes and dump trucks have become a familiar sight at The University of Southern Mississippi in recent months, and the construction frenzy shows no signs of slowing down.
Whether it be the demolition of aging residence halls; the renovation of facilities or breaking ground on new buildings, the Hattiesburg campus has seldom seen a busier time for construction-related projects. To date a total of 23 projects are in progress, scheduled to begin, or recently completed, with an estimated cost of approximately $149 million.
“We were preparing to close seven projects by March 1 but on Feb. 10 all of that changed,” said Chris Crenshaw, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management and Planning. “Not only did the tornado delay those that were near completion, it also significantly increased the number of projects managed at one time beyond anything we’ve seen in the last 10 years.”
Contributions from the University’s alumni and friends have helped get many of these projects off the ground. Among them, the following sizeable gifts have made a significant impact:
“If not for the generosity of our alumni and friends, we would simply not be experiencing the incredible growth as it relates to vitally important building projects on our campus,” said USM Foundation Executive Director Shannon Fleming. “The funds generated through private gifts, along with support through state funding, have allowed us to move forward at different stages with projects that will continue the transformation of the USM campus under the leadership and vision of President Rodney Bennett. Donors to the USM Foundation are continuing to change the lives of our students through their generosity.”
Construction of Scianna Hall, the new 93,000-square foot College of Business building, remains the most visible ongoing project. Crenshaw said the $34 million project has been on schedule with completion expected by fall 2014.
Other notable projects include replacement of the artificial turf at M.M. Roberts Stadium at a cost of $600,000; renovations to the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building at a cost of $1.5 million; repairing fire damage to the Johnson Natatorium at a cost of $750,000 and demolition of Elam Arms residence hall at a cost of $640,000.
The following is a list of projects currently in progress – or set to begin -- with an estimated cost of at least $500,000: (* indicates total project cost to include all fees and furnishings)
With so many projects happening at once, Crenshaw points out that the campus community will experience some interruptions in service and temporary loss of parking in certain areas. However, he believes the minor inconveniences will lead to rewarding results.
“This is all part of the growing process,” he said. “We are excited about what the campus will look like upon completion of these projects, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we continue to meet our everyday responsibilities, recover from the tornado and build new facilities that will enhance our campus for generations to come.”