SMB Honors College to break ground for new expansion

Posted on Mar 7 2014 - 9:17am by Drew Jansen

The university plans to add 13,000 square feet to the existing Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. The addition plans consist of new classrooms as well as designated space for studying and social interaction.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion is set for 10 a.m. today in front of the Honors College. Chancellor Dan Jones, honors college Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez and Jim Barksdale will speak at the event. After the formal remarks, the university will host a reception in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College lounge.

The budget for the addition is $6.3 million. The university will pay for most of the construction internally, according to honors college Associate Dean John Samonds.                                                                          The expansion includes a new entrance to the building which will face Lamar Hall. The three-story construction will add three classrooms for a total of nine classrooms overall and renovate parts of the existing building.

“Increased space for student interaction and conversation will be the windfall of the expansion. Additional classroom space and a public lobby to welcome prospects and visitors will set the stage for a great academic adventure on UM’s campus,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

Samonds also commented on the need for more public space at the current building.

“We just don’t have any good social space for honors students over here at the college, considering the size of our student body,” Samonds said.

The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College has increased its enrollment from 320 students in fall 2002 to more than 1,100 students in fall 2013.

“Between the computer lab, the dungeon and the several classrooms, the 24-hour access to honors college facilities is pretty great,” senior international studies major Byron Head said.

Although Head is set to graduate in May and won’t actually be enrolled in the honors college after the construction is completed, he still said the expansion is important.

“Since the honors college is growing every year, the expansion will help accommodate the growing numbers.”

Sullivan-Gonzalez described the project as an act of faith in his students.

“We can’t know what student working in the dungeon will later discover a new cancer drug, or what lively conversation in the kitchen might later morph into a creative education policy, or what 21st century governor is quietly taking in new perspectives in her honors 102 class,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

“We can’t know, but we firmly believe that will happen, and more that we can’t even imagine yet.”

“We’re very excited; this is something that’s been a long time coming and desperately needed,” Samonds said.

The university expects to complete the addition and renovation of the honors college building by 2015.

Drew Jansen