By Curt Yeomans
For the last three years, groups of Clayton State University students have had to wait a semester, or two, to take required, first-year laboratory science classes, because the school does not have enough lab space.
The university has only seven labs available to meet the needs of more than 6,000 students.
President Thomas Harden said classrooms in Clayton State's Business and Health Sciences building were converted to laboratories over the years to help meet the lab-space demand, but the university is running out of classrooms to convert.
Clayton State is planning to renovate the Business and Health Sciences Building to add three more laboratories. Officials also plan to build a new, 144,000-square-foot science facility at a cost of $34 million. It is tentatively scheduled to open in 2012.
"There's been a urgent need for laboratory space for quite some time," said Harden. "We have the fewest number of instructional labs per student in the [University System of Georgia], and we have no faculty research labs. We're just barely meeting our need."
The new science building will generate 14 teaching labs; 10 research labs; a greenhouse; support areas and an animal facility, said Nasser Momayezi, dean of Clayton State's College of Arts and Sciences, in announcing the construction.
President Hardin said the new building will be located on what is currently a parking lot behind the university's Technology Building. A road which goes in front of the building will be permanently routed to the perimeter of the school's campus. "That was already in our master plan," Hardin added.
On Aug. 20, the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents approved the selection of the S/L/A/M Collaborative, a program management firm, to oversee the design and construction of the new science building.
While the new facility's prime purpose will be to help meet a critical need for laboratory space, Harden said it could also help promote growth in the university's science department.
The most likely result will be an expansion of the degrees offered in the four basic science areas: biology, chemistry, physics, and geology.
"As we have the facilities to offer additional science majors, it would give us the capability to hire more science faculty for the university," Harden said.