Groundbreaking a “Great Day” for the State of Georgia
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal electrified a standing room-only crowd at yesterday’s groundbreaking for Clayton State University’s new science building with a pledge to include $2.9 million in next year’s budget to equip the new facility.
Concluding his remarks before a large gathering of Clayton State faculty, staff, students and most of the local state legislative delegation, Deal noted the importance of the planned $19.8 million building to the training of Georgia’s future workforce, and added that an empty building wouldn't be of much help to the students.
“I am including $2.9 million in next year’s budget to equip this building,” he then pledged.
According to Dr. Michelle Furlong, chair of the Clayton State Department of Natural Sciences, the funds Deal spoke of will be used mainly for scientific equipment for the new building’s 16 labs. Included in the science building’s 64,600 square feet will be eight instructional labs -- five for biology and three for chemistry – and eight research labs, evenly split between biology and chemistry.
The ceremony was held on the site of the new building, located in the parking lot across from the University’s Laboratory Annex Building. Other speakers for the event, coincided with the beginning of construction, included University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby; Clayton State President Dr. Thomas Hynes; Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Clayton State, Dr. Nasser Momayezi; Kevin Kuntz, president of the Southeast Division of commercial contractor McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.; and Clayton State Student Government Association President Joshua Davis. Clayton State Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Micheal Crafton served as the master of ceremonies.
The common theme among all of the ceremony’s speakers was the eventual educational and economic impact the new building will have on Clayton State, the region, and the state. Deal proclaimed that Nov. 14, 2013 was a great day for the state of Georgia and, after thanking the local legislative delegation from Clayton and Henry counties and the General Assembly for their support, noted Georgia’s on-going need for a trained and qualified workforce for the jobs of the next generation. Deal then referenced the November issue of Site Selection
magazine, which chose Georgia as the top spot in the magazine’s annual ranking of state business climates, thanks in part, according to Deal to the state’s diversified economy and an ear for what businesses require to succeed and to expand. To keep that ranking, Deal said, Georgia needs to continue to produce graduates in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines.
“And this building is dead center for STEM,” he added.
Hynes, after also thanking the legislative delegation, introduced the governor with a similar theme, noting that that the new building will support all of Clayton State’s goals in terms of having a more educated Georgia, and referring to the building as, “the future of scientific enterprise here in the state of Georgia. Today’s groundbreaking is proof of Governor Deal’s commitment to education.”
Following the governor’s remarks, Huckaby, a native of nearby Hapeville, Ga., echoed Deal’s “great day for the state” thoughts and commented how gratifying it was to him personally to see the growth and progress of Clayton State and the surrounding community. Huckaby also noted the long-term impact of the science building, and praised the foresight and interest of the governor and, “a lot of people in the state government” in making the new building a reality.
“The real impact will come when this building is completed, an impact on this campus and this part of Georgia” he said. “More importantly, we’re looking to the impact it will have on the students.”
That impact will be significant when the new building opens for classes in August 2015. Additional labs and classroom space for the natural sciences have been a critical need for Clayton State since the University has expanded from 4675 students in 2001 to more than 7200 students currently. Indeed, given the science course and lab requirements in the core curriculum, the lack of a dedicated science building has limited the University’s enrollment, in effect limiting the number of students who can make their dreams real at Clayton State.
Davis, a Clayton State senior business major from Brunswick, Ga., understands as well as anyone that significance.
“Your efforts will allow many more students to have their dreams made real,” he told the governor, chancellor and the legislative delegation in his groundbreaking remarks regarding the growth of the university.
As dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Momayezi has both a personal interest, and an understanding of the importance and history behind the new building.
“I remember when I first came to Clayton State in 2008, there already had been talk for several years about the need for a new science building,” he said in his groundbreaking remarks. “Labs represented a major bottleneck to growth for the University. While enrollments in science-related disciplines have steadily increased, our facilities have not kept pace. Yet, when this building is completed, it will serve more than 700 students in our science courses each semester, as well as students in our nursing and dental hygiene programs. Every concrete slab that will be prepared, every beam that will be erected, every wall and surface that will be painted, and every piece of highly-advanced scientific equipment that will be installed, will all contribute to the creation of a special environment in which scientific learning and discovery will take place.
“Having a new, modern state-of-the-art facility will help to instill excitement in those who want to pursue an undergraduate degree in the sciences, and then take them into graduate and professional degrees as well. Graduates with science-related degrees are vital to our state’s ability to thrive and compete in the 21st Century and beyond.”
“The new science building will certainly provide us the opportunity to expand enrollment of the entire university, since all programs require at least one semester of laboratory science courses,” adds Furlong. “Additionally, the new research laboratories will enhance our ability to mentor innovative undergraduate research projects and will allow us to offer graduate programs in the sciences. Engaging students in research at the graduate and undergraduate level is essential to their future success as scientists.”
The new building will also include two, 64 seat classrooms; three, 36 seat classrooms; and 26 faculty offices, including offices for the department heads of biology and chemistry/physics. Additional spaces will include five small prep rooms; three for biology, and two for chemistry; and two conference rooms.