Johnson City Press: 'It is a completely different place' — ETSU continues to change
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'It is a completely different place' — ETSU continues to change

Brandon Paykamian • Mar 24, 2019 at 4:15 PM

If East Tennessee State University alumni from the class of 2009 were to return to campus the first time since graduating, they would notice quite a few changes — most notably in terms of capital projects.

“Let’s go back four or five years and go forward two years. If you look at that, it is a completely different place,” Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Ross said. "Right now currently, we have 35 renovation projects on campus — renovation, construction, campus maintenance. We have about $240 million (in projects) taking place right now.”

Ross said the campus has been in a period of unprecedented growth in the past few years when it comes to new buildings and renovation projects. Aside from the reintroduction of the Buccaneers football team and the construction of the William B. Greene Jr. Stadium in 2017, the campus has also invested in a $13 million Interprofessional Education and Research Center at the Veterans Affairs campus for ETSU’s health care disciplines.

Ross said the newly acquired $20 million Millennium Center will also soon be transformed into a new academic building for ETSU’s highly ranked computer science program.

“It’s going to begin its conversion for a new academic building for the computer science program, which should generate about 200 students,” Ross said. “That’s an exciting project.”

Ross said other projects include an ongoing $45 million renovation of the D.P. Culp University Center, as well as the long-anticipated $53 million Martin Center for the Arts, which is set to be completed in 2020. The campus is also looking forward to upcoming renovations to Lamb Hall, as well as various renovations and maintenance projects across campus.

Also included on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s project list is a $71.8 million Humanities Building that would provide a new home to the university’s humanities programs. Ross said it would house many of the university’s general education courses.

Over the past two decades, Ross said the campus experience at ETSU has been constantly transforming, and Ross said it will continue to transform itself in the coming years.

“If you were walking on campus six or seven years ago, there wasn’t a green space in the middle of campus. There wasn’t a simulation hospital. There wasn’t a Center for Physical Activity in the shape it is in today. There wasn’t a fine arts building under construction. There wasn’t a football stadium, and there weren’t all kinds of classroom renovations. There weren’t 250 members in the band — much less space for them,” Ross said.

“I would say we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in the university experience — from athletic events to fine arts events, cultural events, places to eat, places to meet with academic advisers and places for students to gather.”

Today, ETSU enrolls about 15,000 students. By 2024, the university hopes to have 18,000 enrolled to fill the new facilities planned by campus officials.

For more information on developments at ETSU, visit www.etsu.edu

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