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Fisher announces major academic building

Belmont will pursue the “chance of a lifetime” through the construction of a major academic building on the corner of 15th and Wedgewood avenues by 2014.

The planned building is expected to have around 160,000 square feet of space and to cost more than $40 million, President Dr. Bob Fisher said at the State of the University address Wednesday.

Construction will probably begin in May 2012, and the goal is for the building to be ready for use by fall 2014.

Many other many details about the project, including which colleges and departments will occupy the planned space and how the building will look, are still to be determined.

“It’s all very vague. We’re inviting campus conversation on what should be there,” Fisher said in a phone interview with the Vision late Wednesday. “It’s just the beginning of a complicated, and because of the semester timeline [to plan], short process.”

At his address, an annual welcome to students — a number that’s a record-breaking 6,300 this year — Fisher gave a list of potential schools that could occupy the new building, including the schools in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Religion.Conference space is also being considered for the space.

“That’s not a exclusive list,” he said. “There are no free passes, put there are no locked doors. We’re just looking at ideas to try to support Vision 2015.” he said.

Currently, Dr. Thomas Burns, university provost, and Dr. Bryce Sullivan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, are planning meetings with all faculty and staff in CAS, which includes the Schools of Education, Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. They will discuss how to use a new building in the best way possible, and they will provide the ideas and concepts from these meetings  to senior leadership.

“A new building’s going to provide office space and space for classrooms … and other opportunities for interdisciplinary studies programs,” Sullivan said. “The fact that we are going to do this in a state of the art facility is phenomenal.”

Sullivan sees the proposed facility as a major opportunity for CAS  to upgrade from its current spaces in the Hitch and Wheeler buildings, which were built in 1973 and 1974.

“This is a monster opportunity for CAS or religion or whoever needs a new building,” he said. “This building is going to affect generations of students. It’s going to provide benefits for our students and faculty past our lifetimes.”

At the State of the University address, Fisher said property was bought to allow the process to move forward. The most recent property the university brought in the area is 1803-B 15th Ave. South. According to Metro Nashville property records, on June 23 the university purchased the house and lot, which is one-third of an acre, property for $1.5 million.

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