By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald
After approving a $100 million campus master plan in February, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton is already getting the ball rolling on one of the plan's cornerstone projects.
On Friday, UMHB announced that GSC Architects out of Austin has been hired to design the new 70,000-square-foot building that will house the Scott & White College of Nursing.
The facility, which will be located on the south side of campus near the York Science Center, is projected to offer numerous simulation labs and state-of-the-art equipment that UMHB leaders say is crucial for long-term success.
"The nursing program is certainly one of the premiere programs on campus and a key to our future," said Ed Martin, UMHB's senior vice president for campus planning and support. "We are sorely in need of simulation labs and clinical training areas that we really must have in order to maintain our level of competition in nursing and science not only in Central Texas but across the state."
Preliminary plans call for a multi-story nursing building that includes a lecture hall and at least five classrooms and offices in addition to the simulation technology.
Officials have said existing nursing department facilities are limited in space and have resulted in the enrollment demands outpacing the capacity for students - currently capped at 350 juniors and seniors.
The master plan entails much more than just the nursing building. Also included are a new student union, a visual arts center, a performing arts center and a football stadium. Taken together, the plan is the largest single capital investment in the school's history.
UMHB trustees have proposed the infrastructure work be funded in part through already designated funds. A combination of grants, debt and donations also are expected to be used to bring the facilities to fruition over the next three to seven years.
"There is no question this master plan is going to be a major process for the university," Martin said. "It will make a tremendous amount of difference in the years to come and put us in a position to grow and really accommodate students with the facilities they need."
The specific designs for the new projects are still in the early phases, UMHB officials said. Early projections offer some details, however. The football stadium is proposed to be located on campus with seating capacity between 8,000 and 10,000.
The performance hall is proposed to seat roughly 600 people, while the visual arts center will feature faculty offices, classrooms, studios and galleries.
The new student union building is scheduled to encompass more than 100,000 square feet and offer dining facilities, a banquet hall, bookstore, student organization rooms and social spaces.
The approval of the master plan comes as UMHB constructs a new $7 million student-housing complex with capacity for 163 beds. That building is projected to be completed by the fall.
Construction work on the Scott & White College of Nursing building is tentatively scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012.
In a recent statement on the master plan, UMHB President Randy O'Rear was clear about the direction he is looking to see the university take.
"Our vision is for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to be the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest," O'Rear said. "It is a bold vision, but as the word continues to spread about the outstanding academic programs at UMHB and our highly dedicated faculty and staff who are devoted to each individual student's success, we believe it is a destination within our reach.
"State-of-the-art learning facilities and an exciting campus environment that encourages students' growth in all facets of their lives will be critical to the achievement of this vision."
Contact Andy Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHeducation.