Take a Digital Tour of the New MTSU Science Building

MTSU’s enrollment has almost quadrupled in the last 43 years—from 6,779 students in 1968 to 26,442 in fall 2011—with no increase in space for science education. The University’s existing Wiser-Patten Science Hall and Davis Science Building were built in 1932 and 1967, respectively, and have a combined total of only 75,332 net square feet.

The new MTSU Science Building will provide more than 250,000 gross square feet of teaching, faculty and student research laboratories and collaborative learning spaces. At least 80 percent of all MTSU students will take at least one class in the new building.

MTSU broke ground for the new Science Building May 3, 2012. (Watch the video below.) The facility is being constructed on the south side of campus adjacent to the James E. Walker Library on the site of the old Wood, Felder, Gore and Clement dorms.


Requested funding:

  • Gov. Bill Haslam included a $126.7 million capital-outlay funding request for the MTSU Science Building in his fiscal year 2012-13 budget. The General Assembly approved the budget April 30.
  • The new Science Building was the No. 1 priority in the MTSU Capital Outlay Funding Request, the No. 1 priority in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Five-Year Capital Projects Plan and the No. 1 capital project request of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
  • The University’s 1991 and 1998 Master Plans identified the significant need for additional science space. The MTSU Science Building project was placed on the TBR Capital Outlay Priority List in 1998.
  • About $20 million has already been spent to prepare for construction of the Science Building. That money funded a new campus chilling plant, distribution lines, planning, site preparation and demolitions of the old dorms.

Cost and comparisons:

  • MTSU modeled 12 science buildings at other institutions in developing the plan for its new Science Building. The average cost for those 12 comparison facilities was $463.42 per gross square foot. MTSU selected the most similar example, the science building at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (bid January 2005). UAH’s comparative cost was $379/GSF, and MTSU’s target cost in planning was $380/GSF.
  • The MTSU project is only 16 percent larger than the Science Building at Austin Peay State University, yet MTSU has three times the number of APSU’s full-time enrolled students. With the new Science Building at MTSU, the density factor, or space available for each student, will be 149 square feet per full-time enrollee. The TBR’s current average density factor at its universities is 210 square feet per FTE.

General information:

  • Grounded in MTSU’s rich tradition of teacher training, the new MTSU Science Building will make full use of technology and contemporary research in teaching cognitive science. The entire facility will feature pedagogical design attributes nationally recognized as Project Kaleidoscope Initiatives, including discovery-based, group learning environments and spaces for informal discussion and collaborative interaction, all promoting an enhanced, 21st-century science education and research continuum.
  • Nearly all of MTSU’s 26,000-plus students will benefit from the improved science facilities. During fall 2010, more than 13,200 students, both majors and non-majors, were enrolled in biology, chemistry and physical science courses. Biology is a general-education requirement at MTSU, and science courses produce about 60,000 credit hours annually at the University.
  • Science courses to be offered in the new building serve academic programs beyond general education, biology and chemistry. Those additional programs include aerospace, agribusiness/agriscience, engineering technology, nursing, physics and astronomy, elementary education, teacher licensure in science education, wellness and exercise science in health and human performance, human sciences nutrition/food science/dietetics, geology, social work, and recording-industry production technology.
  • During the academic year 2009-10, MTSU granted almost 700 degrees in biology, chemistry and related fields. The University estimates that number could increase by 25 percent after the new Science Building is in operation.
  • Construction of the new Science Building will begin immediately after the May 3 groundbreaking, and the facility could be ready for use by spring 2015.

The new Science Building will:

  • enable the University to address needs identified in the America Competes Act by creating additional science graduates to fill high-technology jobs and teach science and math in K-12 schools;
  • enhance middle Tennessee’s regional economy by providing technical entrepreneurs and researchers who launch small businesses through ideas and research;
  • make MTSU and the state more competitive for federal grants and contracts in all areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and
  • support greater collaboration with Oak Ridge National Labs through MTSU’s new science doctoral programs.

Click on each of the thumbnails below (exterior, interior and campus-map location) for larger views.

New MTSU Science Building MTSU Science Building - Interior 

Construction Update

MTSU is an exciting place to work and study in large part because so many improvements are underway! Here are some highlights of recent and current projects.

Science Building

Construction on MTSU’s new $147 million Science Building began in May 2012. Construction is on  schedule, an a steel topping-out ceremony took place Jan. 11. The project will result in approximately 257,000 gross square feet for biology and chemistry, 37 class labs, two open labs, 13 research labs, six classrooms, faculty offices, numerous informal learning areas, and space for student presentations. Approximately 1,500 new student stations will be provided in the labs and classrooms. The building will accommodate state-of-the-art teaching and research technologies. The design features best practices in sustainability by meeting Tennessee State Sustainability Guidelines, and the completed facility will be the equivalent of LEED-certified. The project is planned to be ready for move-in by fall 2014 and ready for classes in spring 2015.

Student Services Building and Parking Garages

Construction began last spring for a new Student Services Building located east of the new Student Union and adjacent to the Campus Recreation Building. The Student Services Building will relocate all functions related to Admissions, Records and Enrollment, Financial Aid, Scheduling, the Bursar’s Office, and Academic Advising. The facility will serve as a starting point for campus tours and as the primary visitors’ center for prospective students and their families. The building will include a bridge from a new student parking garage, through the Student Services Building and extending across Blue Raider Drive to the second-floor ballroom level of the new Student Union. Construction and move-in are expected to be complete by the start of fall semester 2014.

LRC Renovation

Renovation of the Learning Resources Center began Dec. 2011, and construction is now substantially  complete and ready for classes. The project accommodates the Interior Design and Textiles, Merchandising, and Design programs in the academic campus core. Creative and Visual Services has moved into newly renovated space in the Fairview Building, and WMOT and WMTS are now in the new Center for Innovation in Media in the Bragg Mass Communication Building.


Current parking projects include construction of two new student parking garages. One is adjacent to the Health, Wellness, and Recreation Center, and the other is in the Holmes Building lot close to Greenland Drive. The garages will give students convenient access from the edge of campus and direct pedestrian traffic to the core of campus. Each will have approximately 490 spaces for students and will be  substantially complete in summer 2013.


The next phase of roadway improvements includes the widening of Lightning Way and the widening of Champion Way with a new turn lane at Greenland Drive; a new rotary at the intersection of those two roads; and improved pedestrian walkways, crosswalks, and lighting. Construction is expected to begin spring 2013 with substantial completion of the new rotary in the summer of 2013 and completion of the overall project by summer 2014. All roadway projects are designed to improve shuttle bus efficiency and traffic flow, relieve traffic congestion, improve pedestrian walkways and lighting, and provide bike lanes into campus and around the perimeter of the academic core.

Underground Electric Work

Construction of underground electrical duct banks is nearing completion, in what will be an electrical loop around campus. This project will improve electrical service capacity and reliability while enhancing the campus by removing most overhead lines, which will be removed following temporary, required power outages.

Campus Construction Update

MTSU is an exciting place to work and study in large part because so many renovations and new buildings are underway, taking shape, or opening for use! Here are some highlights of recent and current projects.

MTSU Jeff Hendrix Stadium Club Ribbon Cutting

Dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Jeff Hendrix Stadium club in MTSU’s Floyd Stadium made possible by a $1 million donation by Jeff Hendrix estate.

Jeff Hendrix Stadium Club: Located between the 30-yard lines of Floyd Stadium, the new club features a climate-controlled lounge and more than 550 outdoor chair-back seats. The project, which was formally dedicated on Aug. 20, is a result of a $1 million private donation from the estate of long-time MTSU supporter Jeff Hendrix.

Learning Resource Center (LRC) Renovation: This $7.2 million renovation project in the heart of campus will provide new offices, classrooms, and labs for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, primarily the Department of Human Sciences. The building will reopen in January 2013. (LRC 221 is scheduled to open in spring 2013.)

Parking Garages: Two parking structures (one near the Holmes Building and one near the as-yet-unbuilt Student Services Building) are under construction.

They will provide 990 parking spaces (a net gain of 887). A second-level bridge will connect the Student Services garage to and through Student

Services, over Blue Raider Drive, and into the Student Union at the ballroom level. The total cost of the garages is $23.5 million.

Student Services Building: Located next to the MTSU Student Union, this $16 million building is to be occupied in fall 2014. It will be a one-stop area for students to conduct University business (Admissions, Financial Aid, Advising, and Bursar’s Office).

Science Building: The 250,000-square-foot structure, next to Walker Library, will house 36 teaching labs; four classrooms (150-, 75-, 60-, and 50-seat); 12 research suites (physiology, organismal, molecular, synthetic, analytical); 85 offices; one research space for integrated life sciences; one research space for computation; a greenhouse; a vivarium; graduate student spaces; and informal learning spaces. The total project cost is $147 million.

Conference Center: Designed as a flexible meeting, seminar, or special event venue (with a seating capacity of 32 for a seminar, 96 for dining, and 160 for lectures), this $1 million project is scheduled for completion in fall 2013.

Widening and Improvements to Middle Tennessee Boulevard: Bike lanes, wider lanes, a landscaped median, and traffic-calming features for pedestrian safety at intersections.

Ongoing Parking and Transportation Enhancements: The new entrance and signal at Greenland Drive and Blue Raider Drive is open and fully operational. Improvements along MTSU Boulevard through the core of campus have improved shuttle bus efficiency and pedestrian safety. Sidewalks have been widened, and ADA access has been improved. The new rotary supports efficient traffic flow at the new intersection at Blue Raider Drive and Lightning Way. The next phase of construction in this area is in design and slated to start this fall. Turn lanes at Champion Way will be widened; Lightning Way will be widened to accommodate shuttle buses and bike lanes; and the addition of a new rotary at the intersection of Lightning Way and Champion Way will improve traffic flow into and out of campus.

Campus Lighting Enhancements: Phase 1, in which we retrofitted and replaced existing lights with newer-technology fixtures and converted high pressure sodium lamps to metal halide, is complete. Nighttime visibility and general campus illumination has been improved for better security. The replacement fixtures use roof-mounted optics and “dark sky” features consistent with recommended best practices in energy and environmental design and corresponding State

of Tennessee Sustainable Design Guidelines. Phase 2, still to come, will add new light fixtures to improve lighting consistency for better visibility and improved security.

Keathley University Center Renovation: This $2.3 million project will include the development of a new facility in the former Phillips Bookstore space to consolidate testing centers and also improve the Post Office space. It will accommodate Disabled Student Services testing, University Studies assessments, University College Distance Learning for online courses and correspondence exams, and Testing Services (licensure, certifications, ACT, GRE, LSAT, senior major field tests, etc.).

ADA Renovations and Elevator at Alumni Memorial Gym: This project provided full accessibility to the gym level and classes on the lower floor.

Women’s Practice Soccer Field: A new practice field at the corner of Greenland and Blue Raider Drive will replace the former field adjacent to the women’s softball field (The old field will become a parking lot.) The new field will be completed this summer and ready for play in late fall 2012.

Concrete Industry Building: This $11.2 million proposed building is in the design phase.

Student Housing: House #4 on Greek Row has been renovated and is scheduled to open in August under Housing management and will be occupied by Chi Omega. They join the Global Learning Community, which will continue to occupy House #7. Two more houses, #2 and #6, will be renovated during the 2012–2013 academic year and turned over to Housing for occupancy during 2013–2014.

Good News On Our Science Building

The University received some very good news from Governor Bill Haslam when he announced that our long-awaited and much-needed Science Building project was included in his 2012-2013 Budget Proposal. I was honored to be on the House floor at the Capitol as the invited guest of Representative Joe Carr (48th District)  for the governor’s State of the State address. And I personally witnessed the positive response that  came from legislators — led by our own local senators and representatives – when the governor voiced his support for the building.

We are grateful to the governor for recognizing the importance of the Science Building and including a recommendation for $126.7 million in his budget for its construction. The next step is for the legislature to deliberate and approve the governor’s budget recommendation.  This is typically done at the end of the legislative session, which usually wraps up in late April or early May.  Under the proposed funding plan, the University will be expected to provide $18.75 million toward the project’s cost.  In anticipation of this requirement, we have been working to develop a plan utilizing a combination of local institutional funds, designated student fees and private gift dollars. As home to the state’s largest undergraduate student population, the Science Building is critical to our continuing efforts to provide Tennessee with graduates ready for the 21st century workforce.

We appreciate the governor’s leadership, as well as the encouragement and support we have received from the members of the General Assembly, especially the support of our area delegation – Senators Bill Ketron and Jim Tracy and Representatives Joe Carr, Pat Marsh, Mike Sparks, and Rick Womick.  We also appreciate the support of Representative Charles Michael Sargent , chair of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee;  Senator Randy McNally, chair of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee; and our local mayors, Murfreesboro City Mayor Tommy Bragg and County Mayor Ernest Burgess.  This funding proposal would not have happened without these individuals.   And we thank the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for their help in moving this project forward.

Science Building Remains No. 1 Priority

In September, Gov. Bill Haslam asked the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to request that the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee systems conduct a review of their priority lists of existing capital outlay and maintenance projects. This request by the governor was made to ensure that the projects were consistent with the goals of the Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA), which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in January 2010.

The capital priorities assessments were completed by the two systems in early December and submitted to THEC. The assessments were based on recommended plans for the two systems developed by THEC in its 2012–13 Capital Projects Recommendation and Five-Year Capital Projects Plan, which was formally approved and sent to the Department of Finance and Administration.

I am pleased to report that after these assessments, our proposed Science Building remains MTSU’s number one capital outlay funding request; the number one request of the TBR system; and THEC’s top recommended capital outlay project.

The THEC Five-Year Capital Projects Plan includes an institutional matching component for capital outlay projects applicable to the first $75 million of a project. Matching funds can come from private gifts, grants, insti- tutional matching funds, student fees, and other sources. THEC intends for UT and TBR to have flexibility to craft specific parameters of the matching component. For universities, including MTSU, the match is 25 percent. So, with the MTSU Science Building project at $126.6 million and the match being 25 percent of the first $75 million, the match for MTSU will be $18.75 million. We are working diligently on a plan to have the matching funds if state funding is provided.

We are hopeful that funding for the Science Building will be included in the governor’s proposed budget and funding will come from the General Assembly.

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