MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- Middle Tennessee State University broke ground on its new $147 million dollar science building Thursday afternoon.
Governor Bill Haslam, Speaker of the Tennessee House, Beth Harwell, and a large delegation of state legislators joined MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee in turning ceremonial shovels of dirt on the construction site.
MTSU’s enrollment has more than quadrupled in the years since the school’s current science buildings were constructed. The new building has been at the top of Tennessee higher education’s wish list for years.
In his comments, Governor Haslam said that Tennessee needs to drastically increase the number of residents with college degrees.
“It is incredibly strategic, the role that MTSU not only needs to play but has to play, if we’re going to be a great state,” Haslam said. “And the area that we need the most emphasis is the whole...what we call the STEM disciplines; science, technology, engineering and math. We’re behind the curve as a state, quite frankly, there.”
A clearly ecstatic President McPhee noted that the new facility will dramatically increase MTSU’s ability to attract, educate and graduate science majors.
“MTSU grants about 700 degrees in biology, chemistry and related fields; the sciences,” McPhee said. “We estimate that the number could increase by 25 percent after this new facility is in operation. …so you can see the incredible need for this facility.”
The university stressed that today’s ground breaking is not a purely ceremonial event. MTSU intends to begin construction immediately and hopes to complete the 250,000 square foot facility in time for the fall 2015 semester.