LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - USM's Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach took a giant step forward in returning to its pre-Katrina state. Leaders broke ground Monday on a new $7 million building for its health and business colleges.
"Southern Miss has been in the business of higher education for 106 years and we're not going away," said Michael Forster, Dean of the College of Health.
Forster could not be more excited about the new facility he will soon help oversee, and so are USM students.
"I'm really excited because it provides an opportunity to grow our campus, increase our size and footprint within the community, and to bring more students in," explained USM Graduate Student Zachary Stewart.
It's a 25,000 square foot building that will be equipped with state of the art technology for class and conference rooms, office space, and lots of open commons areas. The business and health colleges have been housed in modular structures on campus for almost ten years.
"This is a significant milestone in the history of USM's Gulf Park Campus. This is the first new construction from the ground up that we've had since our science building was built," ," said Steven Miller, Vice President of the Gulf Park Campus. "This is the last of our modular building we've had. So in the post-Katrina world, we will have no more modular, temporary type structures on this campus."
Miller and others say the new building will allow USM to push and promote their academic offerings like never before.
"Business and health are two booming areas of the economy, especially here on the coast, with jobs and health administration," Stewart said.
The building is expected to be ready for learning by July 2017. Funding for the project came exclusively from the Mississippi state legislature.