Construction on campus is continuing at a steady rate as the Department of Facilities Planning and the Special Planning Committee work together to implement a construction plan as part of the university-wide strategy known as Flagship Forward.
Flagship Forward was developed in 2016 under the leadership of Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and focuses on five distinct areas of growth. The plan ultimately aspires to ensure that the University of Mississippi remains “a preeminent public international research university and a leading force for innovation and opportunity in Mississippi, the United States, and the world.”
“The vision outlined in the Flagship Forward plan is one that sets the university down the path of pursuing excellence in four different pillars: academics, health, athletics, and people, places and resources,” said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and member of the planning committee.
Included in this plan is the development of a STEM research center on campus. Partnering with Globalstar, Inc., a provider of mobile and data services, the university plans to have the facility on All-American Drive finished and opened by 2021.
According to head architect Ian Banner, work has just begun on the underground utilities for the center.
“This has been challenging for the contractor, especially since there was a significant amount of rain this winter and record amounts in February,” Banner said. “However, this work continues and will be complete this summer.”
Other projects on campus, such as the work on the northern part of the Student Union, remain ongoing. According to Banner, though the main facade is clearly defined, some work remains.
“There are still some details to be finished in the ballroom,” Banner said. “Cleaning and detailing of the masonry is ongoing, so this part of the building will be complete in 2019.”
The north half of the Student Union will include administrative offices, student body offices, a bookstore with a coffee shop, meeting rooms and large gathering spaces.
Several other important projects on campus are being completed, such as the renovation of Paris-Yates Chapel, the bell tower on the north side of the football stadium, the recreation center and transportation hub across Highway 6, the renovation of Garland, Hedleston and Mayes Halls and the renovation of Johnson Commons East.
Though Banner said he could not comment about future plans for construction on campus, it is evident from looking at the UM Flagship Forward and UM Master Plan manuals that construction will remain a constant force at the university in coming years.
Ideas for future construction plans in the manuals include turning the road between Guyton and Paris-Yates Chapel into a lane known as Magnolia Mall, demolishing or replacing “contributing buildings” – such as Guyton, Croft, Ventress, Bryant, and Fulton Chapel – and implementing a bicycle network on campus.
Though these projects have no set date, they are included in both the Flagship Forward and UM Master Plan, which are the guidelines for the vision of the University of Mississippi.
Such a vision, according to the introduction of the UM Master Plan, “draws from the past, addresses the needs of the present, and promotes a philosophy of stewardship and sustainability for the future.”