August 21, 2012 10:27:58 AM
The Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) is awaiting an answer from the Mississippi Legislature after approving a list Thursday of the top 10 construction priorities for each of the state's public universities. The costs of those projects would be $684 million.
The Legislature failed to provide bond funding for universities in 2012.
Mississippi State University is asking for $58.2 million, while MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine programs are requesting $57.3 million. Mississippi University for Women is seeking $41.8 million for its projects.
With a department that was ranked sixth nationally for agriculture research expenditures by the National Science Foundation, MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine has seen grants and contracts increase $6 million over the last year -- one reason why Gregory Bohach, vice president for the division, said all of the departments need more laboratory space.
"The labs we have are adequate, but the volume of work is really growing and we just need more facilities," he said. "The infrastructure is a little on the old side too, but it's just time to prepare for the future."
Bohach said the division's top priority is to move the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences out of its current location in the Wise Center in order to provide space needed for the College of Veterinary Medicine and to fund renovations on other facilities in the division. The Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences would move into the central part of campus near the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.
But Bohach said he isn't getting his hopes up but the upgrades and renovations will have to happen one way or another due to an increased enrollment in the division as a whole.
"Our student population is growing rapidly in most of our programs," Bohach said. "We aren't planning on getting the whole amount, though. This is very similar to the amount we put in last year and we didn't get any of it."
In addition, MSU has two top projects: renovations to the YMCA building and an addition to Mitchell Memorial Library. But the university would also like to begin construction on a new civil and environmental engineering complex, address disability accessibility throughout campus and begin several roof repairs.
Amy Tuck, vice president for campus services, said the renovations to the YMCA will be all-inclusive but will specifically focus on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system as well as the sprinkler system.
Like MSU, MUW also wants to address its disability code compliance, but an addition and renovation to Fant Memorial Library, which is $16.4 million worth of the total requested and has been an issue on the university's campus for years, remains the most anticipated priority.
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