Just as another proud class of graduates-turned-alums was set to make their way in and out of Murphy Center for Saturday’s summer commencement, attention for many on the Blue Raider campus immediately shifted to the start of fall semester just a few weeks away — and beyond.
The MTSU campus continues to transform as the university implements long-range plans aimed at providing students the best possible educational experience at a great value, and the many improvements in infrastructure, buildings, personnel and technology are a testament to that commitment.
Of course the latest Exhibit A of that commitment is the new $147 million Science Building off Alumni Drive, a state-of-the-art facility that has been humming with activity all summer as construction work wrapped up and equipment and faculty/staff move-ins began in earnest. Some labs are already in use and some classes will be held this fall in what can only be described as a jewel of a facility.
Also on deck are the coming renovations to the Bell Street property. Future occupants include the Graduate Business Studies for the Jones College of Business, the University College, the Center for Counseling and Psych Services and others to be determined. Construction is set to begin this fall and move in is expected by next summer. Turner Construction, who managed the Science Building project, will also be the construction manager/general contractor for the Bell Street project.
Meanwhile, the current chain-link fence surrounding the open green space on the Bell Street property will be removed when improvements are made to sidewalks and curbing on the northeast corner of the property at Bell and North University streets. New fencing will eventually go in to improve the current green space and provide security. The university is planning to upgrade the green space for student recreation use.
A work schedule for the sidewalk and curbing improvements has not been set, but is expected to be finished within the next six months to a year. The fencing would go up soon after and will be black aluminum fencing similar to that around portions of the MTSU baseball field. The property will also include a historical marker commemorating the site’s previous location for the Rutherford Hospital and Middle Tennessee Medical Center.
Traffic flow in and out of campus continues to improve. To the delight of many campus visitors, Lightning Way on the northeast side of campus will reopen in time for the start of fall classes, connecting the new rotary at the intersection of Lightning and Champion Ways to the rotary at Blue Raider Drive. The new rotary has been opened for motorists this semester as construction continues, with completion of the overall project expected this fall. A change in traffic flow along Lightning Way will be required for motorists and pedestrian safety, with right turns only at Lightning Way and Founders Lane.
Parking for students will also get another boost this fall, with construction wrapping up on a surface lot off MTSU Boulevard east of the new garage at the Student Services and Admissions Center. The lot will have 679 total parking spaces, including 16 ADA spaces, and will be ready for the start of fall semester.
If you’ve driven along Middle Tennessee Boulevard on campus of late, you’ve probably noticed the demolition of the Human Sciences Annex building across the street from Murphy Center. This structure previously housed the Interior Design department, which is now housed in the Learning Resource Center as part of the university’s long-range plan to relocate the department to the campus core. Campus planning officials said the annex facility, formerly a private residence, had reached the end of its useful life without very substantial renovations required to bring it up to current codes and maintenance standards.
Look out for future updates on the ever-changing Blue Raider campus.
Jimmy Hart is director of News and Media Relations at MTSU.