Education

LaGrange College launches $21M project to boost sciences

COURTESY OF LAGRANGE COLLEGE 
 This rendering from architectural firm Earl Swensson Associates of Nashville, Tenn., depicts the new labratory science facility LaGrange College announced Thursday, part of a $21 million project scheduled to be finished by January 2017.
COURTESY OF LAGRANGE COLLEGE This rendering from architectural firm Earl Swensson Associates of Nashville, Tenn., depicts the new labratory science facility LaGrange College announced Thursday, part of a $21 million project scheduled to be finished by January 2017.

A $21 million project will produce a 43,000-square-foot laboratory facility and will renovate the 27,000-square-foot science building at LaGrange College, officials announced Thursday.

Scheduled to be completed by January 2017, the new facility will be located at the corner of Vernon Street and Park Avenue, across from the Cason J. Callaway Science Building. It will house state-of-the-art spaces for instruction in biology, ecology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry and immunology, according to the college's news release.

"With this building, students pursuing careers in research, medicine, sustainability or allied health fields like physical therapy will have access to innovative technologies in their disciplines," LaGrange College president Dan McAlexander said in the release. "Also, the new special projects lab, ecology lab and nuclear magnetic resonance equipment will give our faculty the ability to design new undergraduate research opportunities."

The new facility also will contain room for research and offices for biology and chemistry faculty. The renovation of the 44-year-old science building will provide classrooms for all the sciences and modern labs for physics and computational math.

"Working with their chemistry, biology and physics colleagues, our computational mathematics faculty and students will be able to pursue multiple undergraduate research projects in experimenting with and mathematically modeling a wide array of interdisciplinary inquiry," McAlexander said.

All of which will help train more students for the STEM careers in science, technology, engineering and math - boosting economic development.

"To be competitive in the global economy, we need to be producing more graduates in STEM fields, which are both financially and personally rewarding," Nickie Cauthen, chairwoman of the college's science department, said in the release. "These new laboratories will make our students even better prepared to launch many science careers."

Since 2008, the college has increased its enrollment by approximately 30 percent, to nearly 1,000 students. Combined with the expansion of its nursing and exercise science programs, the college has an increasing demand for classrooms and labs, McAlexander said.

The college will pay for the project through a fundraising campaign, Debby Baker of the communications and marketing department said in an email to the Ledger-Enquirer.

"We will be talking more about that later this spring," she said.

That's also when the new facility's name is expected to be announced, Baker said.

Batson-Cook Co. of West Point is the project's construction manager. Earl Swensson Associates of Nashville, Tenn., is the architectural firm. Bill Trivett with Chaseco LLC of Franklin, Tenn., is the owner's representative.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.

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