NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With the completion of a new Health Sciences Building set for next month, Tennessee State University officials say ongoing construction projects around campus are on schedule and are intended to enhance students’ living and improve their learning environment.
“The new projects are part of a long-term plan to improve academic programs and increase our residence hall inventory, while enhancing the overall status of the university,” says TSU President Glenda Glover.
“We are extremely excited about welcoming our students and about the future and the new look our campus will take on with the construction. It’s been a long time coming for our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”
In March, amid the coronavirus pandemic, TSU sent students home, closed the residence halls, and asked employees to work remotely, but the construction continued.
As the university prepares to reopen on August 17, officials say all of the projects are still ongoing and on schedule, but construction activities will not have any negative impact on student housing or movements.
Among the projects, the new, ultra-modern Health Sciences Building with classrooms, spaces for clinical simulations, labs and offices, will greet new and returning students when it opens in August. It is estimated at $38.3 million. A 700-bed residence hall estimated at $75.2 million, and expected to be completed in about 18 months, is under construction in the open space between Watson Hall and the Performing Arts Center. Other projects soon to be started are the Gateway Arch, Alumni House and Welcome Center, and a Field Research Organic Laboratory.
“These projects are going to be as less intrusive to students’ ability to move around as possible,” says Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president at TSU. “It won’t hurt student housing. It may be noisy for them during some construction periods, but it won’t interrupt them being able to get into their residence halls or to be able to move around.”
Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, agrees. He says every effort is being made to ensure that students are not inconvenienced in any way.
“We will be intentional about minimizing the inconvenience to students,” says Stevenson. “We are bringing up a huge edifice that is going to be something very special, and as such, there may be a need on the part of students to make some minor adjustments in terms of that construction site.”
He says the current residence halls are ready to welcome new and returning students for the fall semester.
“We really are excited about our students coming back. We left rather abruptly in the spring,” says Stevenson. “We miss the students in terms of the opportunity to see them on campus. We really are excited about this fall. Even though it is different, we are making sure we provide a safe environment, good experience and a quality education for the students.”
With the new construction, some previously designated parking areas are being taken up to make room for the new student housing, but Johnson says the overall plan is ensuring that no parking space is lost.
“All we have done is to relocate some parking spaces,” he says, adding, “That means that we might have to take a few more steps to get to certain locations than we did before. But we are not losing any parking. In fact, we may pick up a few more than we had before.”
Johnson says although campus may look different with all of the projects going on, students are generally excited to see positive changes around them, especially in infrastructure and the future of the university.
“It is always good when the student can say, ‘I remember what it used to be but it is better now.’ That is what we are trying to make – a better TSU,” he says.
TSU announced July 8 it will reopen August 17 under a comprehensive plan that will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community, along with student discounts.
To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit www.tnstate.edu/return.
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.