Construction Begins on Addition to Bailey Science Center

August 10, 2011

Construction Begins on Addition to Bailey Science Center


VALDOSTA--Construction has begun on Valdosta State University’s 15,000-square-foot addition to the Bailey Science Center.

The $5.5 million project is expected to be completed by fall 2012. The addition includes two 75-seat multipurpose laboratories, two 30-seat classrooms, and 20 faculty offices.

“Faculty and department heads in the sciences have advocated for a project that has the potential to positively impact all of our students by increasing laboratory courses by three times, particularly for students who are non-science majors,” said Provost Phil Gunter. “I believe this represents the apex of dedication to one of the primary desired outcomes for our students, the opportunity to move through their degree requirements in a timely fashion.”

The addition allows more students to take core science courses, which include laboratory time. The current smaller laboratories will be used for faculty and student research.

“What limits us in the sciences is the laboratory space. It is not just that you need a bigger classroom for students, but you can only put a limited number of students in the current lab space,” said Dr. James Baxter, head of the Chemistry Department. “We need to make the best use of our personnel. Currently we have 24 students in each lab section with one professor. If you can accommodate 75 students with one professor and a couple of graduate assistants, then you generate tremendous savings plus you can accommodate more students each semester.”

At the time the Bailey Science Center was constructed in 2001, the university’s enrollment was approximately 9,000 students. Today, with enrollment reaching 13,000, there is an urgent need to provide more classroom space, larger multipurpose laboratories, and faculty offices.

“When the Bailey Science Center opened, I doubt that anyone, and least of all the faculty in the biology and chemistry departments, thought that they would outgrow the building in ten years,” said Dr. Connie Richards, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This addition, for which we are most grateful, will allow us to efficiently and effectively move the growing number of students taking core science courses through their laboratory experience.”

As the university’s enrollment continues to rise, there is an increased need for more seats within the sciences, especially those classes offered as part of the core requirements.

“We showed that we could develop a new model and teach more students, especially within the anatomy and physiology sections,” said Dr. Robert Gannon, head of the Biology Department. “When the new space is completed we will be able to offer enough sections that will allow our students the opportunity to get a seat.”

In the past ten years, the number of biology majors has increased from 500 to more than a 1,000; and 30 to 40 chemistry majors graduate each year, as compared to two or three in 2000.

The addition of graduate programs has also facilitated the need for more laboratory space.

“A decade ago, neither biology nor chemistry had a graduate program,” Richards said. “Today, 20 graduate students are enrolled in the Master of Science degree in biology, and next year the Chemistry Department will launch its new Professional Science Master’s degree.”

Additionally, the two larger laboratories will be utilized by the geosciences, another growing undergraduate program that will launch a Master of Science degree in 2012.

“We are grateful to have laboratory space for geoscience core-lab courses,” said Dr. Edward Chatelain, head of the Physics, Astronomy, and Geoscience Department. “Our faculty can serve many more non-major students, with fewer faculty teaching labs. We can also utilize smaller existing geoscience labs for upper level courses".

The original 148,000-square-foot building was constructed in 2001 at a cost of $22.4 million. In April 2006, the building was officially named the Hugh C. Bailey Science Center after the university’s sixth president.

The architectural firm Stanley Beaman and Sears designed the addition, and the building will be constructed by Elkins Constructors, Inc.