Look around the Jeff Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College now and you can see parking is a big problem. The college is building additional parking spaces and sidewalks to help ease the pinch.
At the Perkinston Campus, new dorms are going up. Despite these new construction projects, the improvements are not enough.
The community college has seen a huge increase in student enrollment over the last four years. In 2001, 8,947 students were enrolled in the five campuses and centers. This year, the number jumped to 10,876 students.
Dr. Ed Hartsell said "The college is growing. The community is growing. It's developed. The college must keep pace with that with its facilities as it looks at the programs and program availability and the people that are being served and what their needs are".
Dr. Hartsell is the consultant hired by the community college to come up with a plan to meet the demands of continuous enrollment growth. Some of his recommendations include:
- Jackson County Campus: Completion of roadway and parking project, and Estuarine Education Center.
- Jeff Davis Campus: Advanced Technology Complex, Hospitality Training Center, Childcare program/facility.
- Perkinston Campus: Two new residence halls, Math and Science Building addition and renovation, Harrison Hall renovation/learning resource center.
- George County Center: Classroom building.
- West Harrison County Center: Classroom building.
All of these projects come with a huge price tag. The estimated cost is $97.5 million. College leaders must now sit down and decide which projects will head the priority list, and where the funding will come from.
MGCCC President Dr. Willis Lott said "We're looking at all funding possibilities, local, state, federal grants. We are excited about the projects, and about the possibility of expanding opportunities our college has".
Dr. Hartsell said "This is a proactive plan to move this big ship, fine ship, into the future in a way that can bring a great deal of partners in this community to help students".
He added "The longer we wait, the bigger that price tag will get. But that's what's needed for this college not only to stay out front, but to go to the head of the line, and offer outstanding education to the citizens of this area".
Dr. Lott said "I'm very optimistic that they will all get done. I'm not sure they'll all get done while I'm president, but they have been identified as major projects and they need to be done to prepare our community college for the future".
If the funding falls into place, construction could begin in early 2006.