Big changes are coming to campus: Construction, renovation and demolition are underway

Lauren Trimm

The W’s campus will be taking on a different look soon, with the remodeling of the Demonstration School and the demolition of both Taylor Hall and Keirn Hall. 

These changes have been in the works for a while now and are finally able to become a reality.

“What I’m hoping will happen out of all this is that our infrastructure will be upgraded to provide the ability to deliver modern facilities,” said Nora Miller, senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer at The W.

The Demonstration School, which had been closed and unused for several years, is in the process of receiving an $8.2 million renovation. Construction for the project began in January 2018 and is currently six percent complete. Upon completion, the school will be renamed Turner Hall. The newly renovated Turner Hall will house the Speech Language Pathology program, the Speech and Hearing Clinic and a large tiered classroom/auditorium that will be available for both the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and other university programming. The project is expected to be completed by June 2019, and is being funded by state general obligation bonds.

Preplanning for the demolition of Taylor Hall and Keirn Hall has begun. The goal is to have plans and funding in place in order to bid the project out in Spring 2019 and begin demolition in Summer 2019. A new culinary arts building will replace the halls.

“Our plans for the new culinary building would provide for four kitchens which are going to be a much bigger pull on the electrical system than what we currently have,” said Miller. “If we are successful in getting funding from the current legislative session bond funding, that would be used for the demolition of Taylor and Keirn. It would be used for this electrical upgrade, and it would be used for some other things that aren’t as exciting as what we’ve been working on lately.”

There are several new construction plans for the future in addition to Turner Hall, Taylor Hall and Keirn Hall. The renovation and expansion of the John Clayton Fant Memorial Library is complete, except for certain technology installations. The W is working with an Audio-Visual Consultant and with the State of Mississippi Information Technology services to produce technology for the tiered classroom and the study rooms. This process is also being funded by state general obligation bonds, and the remaining technology will be in place as funding is provided.

Hogarth Dining Center is undergoing repairs to its infrastructure. Students noticed just before Spring Break that the cafeteria was closed and meal services were moved temporarily into the Subway location. The cafeteria is now open again. Because the dishwashing machine will be inoperable during the repairs, Sodexo will only be using paper and plastic products while the repairs are being made. Additionally, the parking lot behind Hogarth will be closed off during the repairs. Only the Sodexo catering van and delivery vehicles will be allowed to have access to it. Miller said the repairs are nearing completion. This project is being funded by the Mississippi Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management. This is a $700,000 project.

The university has also been working to add onto the existing Physical Plant Building. A 4,477-square foot single-story addition and a 2,500-square foot warehouse are being built adjacent to the existing storage buildings. This $1,059,550 project is estimated to be complete by the end of next month. Miller said it is 96 percent complete and is funded by state general obligation bonds.

Athletics have returned to The W, which means that construction has occurred in order to create athletics facilities on campus. The most noticeable of these facilities is the newly renovated Don Usher Softball field, located on 15th Street South. This is the result of a $716,399 project for improvements to the softball field. These improvements include an artificial turf playing field, fencing, windscreens, bullpens, scoreboard, deck, backstop netting and pads, field lighting and updates to the press box, concession area and restroom facilities. The renovations are 95 percent complete and are funded from university auxiliary funds and the Mississippi University for Women Foundation. The windscreens and deck came from athletics fundraising through sponsors and donations.

Because of the carbon monoxide scare last semester, safety improvements have been made to the residence halls on campus. All residence hall mechanical and fire alarm systems have been inspected and evaluated by professionals, and carbon monoxide detectors have been placed in the mechanical rooms on every floor. Obstructions that may restrict airflow around the boilers have been removed, and air intake ducts have been extended where needed. Any necessary repairs have been made. The project was funded by university plant funds and is estimated to cost around $60,000.

Additionally, the mechanical engineer offered two options for modifications to the south campus residence halls. These include structural changes or boiler replacements. Replacing the boilers is ultimately the best solution. “Our goal is to have the replacements in place by next year’s heating season,” said Miller.

“We are closely watching legislative activity on bond bills for these and other projects,” said Miller.

Several other projects will begin in the future.

“We’re looking at what is going to be needed to bring baseball and perhaps soccer onto campus rather than at other facilities in the area,” said Miller. “We are also looking at residence halls so we can accommodate more students and provide the type of housing that students are looking for.”