JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Big infrastructure changes are happening on the campus of East Tennessee State University (ETSU).
Several buildings are part of a larger campus project, including the Campus Center, Gilbreath Hall, Burleson Hall, Brown Hall and the already-completed Lamb Hall.
“The period of capital construction that we’re moving through is the most significant investment in new academic facilities since the mid-1950s,” said ETSU President Brian Noland.
Gilbreath Hall’s classrooms, offices and performance space are under renovation. It is expected to be finished before classes start in a few weeks.
Burleson Hall will be renovated soon and will house faculty offices. Brown Hall will be renovated soon as well.
Lamb Hall’s renovation is complete, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held this fall.
The Campus Center will be demolished soon and a new structure, the Academic Building, will be built in its place.
University officials said ETSU received government funds to put towards these capital projects. The Academic Building is projected to cost $62.5 million. The state has provided $55,330,000 to go towards the cost of the new building. ETSU must find matching funds to make up the difference.
Burleson and Gilbreath Halls’ projected costs have been roped into the Academic Building’s budget. $47 million has been allocated for the renovation of Brown Hall. Lamb Hall’s renovation cost $21.6 million.
“Our academic programs are world-class. Our faculty are world-class,” said Noland. “But, the differentiator for us historically has been our classrooms aren’t at the level they should be. That’s no longer the case. And the investments we’re making are investments in the academic heart of the institution.”
Noland said this is all a part of a long-range master plan that the campus has been involved in for a decade.
“If you were to walk on our campus a decade ago, you would’ve seen roads crisscross campus, cars crisscrossing campus, and a place that really had the feel of a commuter institution,” said Noland. “If you come back to this institution at the end of this decade, we have transitioned from what was the past, into a future and that future is the destination Health Sciences institution for Tennesseans.”
Below are renderings of the Academic Building provided by ETSU.
The Academic Building will be a multi-purpose, collaborative space for students and staff. It is anticipated to transform the center of campus.
“When we talk about flexible classrooms, [the Academic Building] will truly be used for the entire campus,” said Chief Operating Officer for ETSU Jeremy Ross.
The building will be a learning space with no faculty offices.
“It’s a philosophical change,” said Ross. “So, we have an academic building that is all classrooms and labs. It’s a learning hub and there will be learning centers, writing centers, math centers in this building.”
Ross said the classrooms will be flexible and that furniture can be moved around. The building will include an outdoor balcony and green roof which will offer both outdoor and indoor learning opportunities.
Demolition of the Campus Center will be in November with construction of the Academic Building anticipated to begin in January or February 2024. The Academic Building is projected to be finished fall of 2025.