The final budget adopted by the Georgia General Assembly March 18 and sent to Gov. Nathan Deal includes $44.7 million for the construction of a Science Learning Center at the University of Georgia.
Funding for the proposed building was included unchanged from that originally proposed by the governor in January and the board of regents last fall.
“I am grateful that the General Assembly recognized the significant impact that the Science Learning Center will have in addressing the critical need for additional science teaching labs at the university,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “On behalf of the university, I am sincerely appreciative to the chancellor and board of regents for approving the project, the governor for including it in his capital priorities, and the lieutenant governor, speaker, General Assembly leadership and members of the local delegation for supporting it. This much-needed facility was my top capital priority for this year and will provide modern, efficient and flexible space for undergraduate laboratory teaching in the sciences at UGA.”
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved UGA’s request for design and construction of the approximately 122,500-square-foot facility in September as part of its fiscal year 2015 budget request to the governor.
With the governor’s signature, the project would begin construction this summer with completion expected in 2016. Once completed, the project would be supplemented by $10 million in institutional funds to begin a program to modernize space where such courses are now taught in the 1960s-era chemistry and biological sciences buildings, with much of that space being repurposed to support faculty research.
Core undergraduate science lab courses at UGA have been operating above capacity, particularly in core chemistry and biology, and are taught in outdated facilities that are difficult to maintain.
The chemistry building was constructed in 1960, with additions in 1971 and 1997. The biological sciences building also was built in 1960, with an addition in 1972.
The Science Learning Center is being designed to add 33 modern teaching labs plus two lecture halls and two other classrooms.
According to the university’s submission to the regents, the center would effectively address the deficit of modern teaching laboratory space and ensure lab course availability through 2026 based on current enrollment trends.