by Katie Ellington, News Editor
In one fiscal year, Asbury has managed to raise a little over $8 million for the newest building on campus, still $17 million shy of the needed estimated $25 million needed for the project.
The University officially announced plans to build the new Collaborative Learning Center (CLC) in June during the Reunion 2015 event. The estimated cost currently is $25 million (exactly double what it cost to build the Miller Building, according to Asbury’s website), but Charlie Shepard, Asbury’s Vice President for Institutional Development, said the cost may go up as plans develop.
“There haven’t been any program meetings where we actually sit down with an architect and say, “Okay, this is all the space we want, this is what we want it to look like,” said Shepard.
According to Shepard, the University will tear down Doddridge Holland and build the CLC in its place. It will house the mathematics and natural and allied science departments as well as the Howard Dayton School of Business.
“The faculty, chairs, and deans of these departments have been working with the administration for several years to anticipate the kinds of spaces that could be in the CLC,” said Steve Clements, Dean of Arts and Sciences. “We’ve been through a couple of different building sketches, although no formal plans have been generated yet by an architectural firm.”
Clements says that the biggest hurdle right now is funding. The building will be funded completely through donations. After receiving a $4 million donation over the summer, funds for the CLC now total at $8 million, a third of the estimated cost.
While planning specific details won’t begin until more money is raised, the administration already has high hopes for the building. A news article published on Asbury’s website in June stated that the CLC is expected to comprise of at least 10 laboratories, 20 offices, between 10 and 13 classrooms and a 300-seat auditorium. Faculty members hope that the new, state-of-the art facility will encourage more students to enroll in these programs.
“The Hamann-Ray building is over 50 years old,” says Clements. “And while it is still serviceable we clearly need more up-to-date science laboratories and classrooms to compete for students.”
The CLC will also give these departments plenty of room to grow. The business department has already seen lots of growth since 2013, with the launch of the Howard Dayton School of Business, a new five-year bachelor-and-master’s program and the arrival of over eighty new students. On the other hand, fall 2014 enrollment for both the mathematics and natural science departments was at an eight-year low. According to records from the registrar’s office, undergrad enrollment for these majors totaled 56 natural or allied science majors, 31 mathematics majors and 163 business majors as of last fall. According to the University’s news article, the CLC is expected to accommodate 130 natural and allied science majors, 70 math majors and 400 business majors. Unlike Hamann-Ray, it will have lounges where students from different departments can work together on group projects.
“The vision behind the building is to create an environment in which those three programs can collaborate,” said Shepard. He emphasized that the three areas often intersect, scientists need business to promote their products and research, and businesses need products and research to promote. “Business often is the foundation for what happens in science. If you innovate you create a new product you still have to have some idea of how to get that product to market.”
“I’m extremely excited about the lounges,” says sophomore Kelly Hagan. “In (Hamann-Ray), there isn’t a great place for the math and science community to grow together as a family.”
“Science is the way things are moving,” said Shepard. “We want Asbury graduates who are so well prepared that they get in to the best positions, create and innovate…it gives them larger platforms for making a difference in people’s lives.”