President's Letter: Legislators Help Historic Campus Buildings Get Facelift

Cover of Spring 2014 Focus magazine, tiltedEditor's Note: This first appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Focus, Columbus State University's twice-a-year magazine.

Columbus State University receives a great deal of attention for the progress it has achieved through private support. We have some world- class faculty and facilities that simply would not be here if not for the incredible generosity of our friends and donors.

[caption id="attachment_759" align="alignright" width="101"]Timothy S. Mescon Timothy S. Mescon[/caption]

But private support is not the only area in which we are making progress. In our ongoing mission to become a First Choice institution, we have great support from members of our legislative delegation who have been working mightily to secure desperately needed funding for Columbus State University. Because of their help, we begin this summer on a $3.95 million renovation of our oldest classroom building, Howard Hall, and next summer we should be able to do the same to Arnold Hall, thanks to a recent $4.95 million state allocation.

For Howard Hall’s facelift, a faculty-led committee did great work in helping develop a comprehensive redesign that includes state-of-the-art technology, classroom upgrades, HVAC and lighting improvements, and — in response to student input — much-needed group study space.

We will redistribute classes from that building across our campuses by carefully examining space utilization during different days of the week and times of day. When Howard Hall comes back online, we plan to repeat the process all over again with Arnold Hall. When this project is completed, the core of campus will have a much different, much more contemporary look that is appropriate for this campus and for the caliber of students we aim to attract.

Elsewhere on campus, more improvements are coming. We are looking to the state again next year to secure funding for a long- overdue addition to our science classroom inventory in LeNoir Hall and to build a major learning commons enhancement of the Schwob Memorial Library on main campus. We expect this will be about a $20 million major capital construction project, for which we will need about $4 million in private support. Fortunately, we have already received $1 million from the ever-so-generous Mildred Miller Fort Foundation.

Another major change could come to campus if voters during the November election approve a tax exemption for private developers building student housing and parking decks on University System of Georgia campuses. If this passes, we hope to see the construction of 500 freshman beds in the heart of our campus. We need traditional freshman housing, and this legislation, if it passes, will allow that to occur. We are working hard to reinforce our First Choice status. I appreciate the ongoing support we receive from so very many.