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New academic building in the works

Jason D. Cox
Staff Writer

Faculty and administrators hope next year to begin construction of a new academic building.

“We’re very early on in this process, probably looking at a building in 2012,” Provost Greg Dewey said.

This new building would be a multi-disciplinary facility to relieve the stress placed upon ULV’s current facilities by the recent record-setting influx of new students. Though design specifics are still in the works, it is likely that the facility will include space for classrooms, laboratories and offices.

To move the process forwards, Dewey assembled a needs-assessment committee for this project, with representatives from the faculty of each of the four colleges as well as administrators. The committee is charged with planning precisely how the building would be used, and eventually choosing an architectural firm for the project.

The firm would work with ULV officials in the planning stages of how best to design a new building, keeping in mind all the needs it is intended to meet. The building’s numerous details, such as location, size, and usage, will be guided by ULV’s Master Plan.

“There are some very interesting design plans with open floor plans in which spaces flow into each other, which varies what you can use the space for,” Dewey said. “There’s been a lot of innovation in the design of these types of buildings. The trend is open formats, such as lab spaces that could be used as a classroom. We’re looking at firms that have experience with this type of design.”

A significant portion of the building is likely to be used for laboratory space, as well as classrooms and other areas that can be used by other educational units. Professor of Biology and Biochemistry Jay Jones said his department has seen a 127 percent increase in enrollment in the last year.

“There’s definitely a need, particularly for science lab space,” Associate Professor of Biology Christine Broussard said.

“There was a time when researchers would have two or three buildings dedicated to natural sciences,” senior biology major Heather Garcia said.

“There are lots of people in the department trying to do research for publication or for grants, but people in the labs are bumping elbows.”

At this early stage, the funding source for the building is still in discussion. While a bond may ultimately pay for the project, Dewey said he hoped the University would fund-raise in addition to, or place of, the bond.

Jason D. Cox can be reached at jason.cox@laverne.edu.

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