USM Gulf Park Expansion Ahead Of Schedule

The expansion project at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus is slightly ahead of schedule.

That 13 million dollar project includes a new library and an advanced education center. It is the largest expansion since USM took over the campus in 1972.

The heart of the USM Gulf Park campus is one big construction zone.

"The impact is really going to be substantial on our campus and also for the Gulf Coast community," said Physical Plant Director, Tom Compton.

The steel is beginning to take shape in the new library and advanced education center. Those two new buildings are a combined 100 thousand square feet. Once finished, the expansion will increase the total square footage of the Gulf Park campus by more than 50 percent.

"The library is on the site of the old physical plant and the old swimming pool. The swimming pool was just north of the library. This is going to be an elevated plaza area for student gathering, " Compton said.

The massive new library will be ten times the size of the existing one. It will also come equipped with the latest computers and wireless Internet accessibility.

Edward McCormack is the Library Director.

"Nowadays, you don't determine a good library by the number of books. You determine a good library by the ability to access information. This library can access information worldwide. So, we're real excited about it."

A water area will become a focal point between the new library and the advanced education center. Plans call for building a dam on Bear Creek and creating a pond which will become a gathering spot for students.

The advanced education building includes a 500 seat auditorium along with classrooms and a technology center. It should be finished by late this year. The library will be done by the first of next year.