Students studying science could be working in a new building as early as fall 2013, although the facility is still in the planning stages.Undertaken due to lack of space, the new facility would be connected to Burns Hall, the current home of Indiana Wesleyan University’s science and nursing programs, in order to form a new academic complex on the north side of campus.
Although specific plans have yet to be drawn up, the new building will most likely be built on the site Old College Church currently occupies, according to Brendan Bowen, vice president for operations and facilities planning.
According to Bowen, the building is estimated to be constructed at around 80,000 square feet, at a potential cost of more than $22 million plus construction. Full costs of the facility, including potential renovations to re-purpose Burns Hall, are unknown at this point.
“We want a quality building and we owe it to the students,” Bowen said. “We don’t want to waste a single dollar on this project.”
The new project is a result of a space study done in 2010 that looked at current needs of departments, students and faculty across IWU, as well as projected requirements for the next 10 years.
“The conclusions that we came to, according to our study and growth trends, the science area was one of our largest needs,” said Karen Roorbach, assistant provost for academic support services. “Not only for the majors within that program, but majors that are supported by their programs.” The new academic complex would house the School of Nursing, encompassing the Division of Pre-licensure Nursing and Graduate Nursing, as well as the Division of Natural Sciences.
Bowen also said IWU may include the Division of Mathematics and Computer Information Sciences in the new academic complex. Currently the division is housed in Center Hall, which also provides space for the Division of Art.
“We’re looking at this building as a potential solution to that space problem,” Bowen said.
According to Dr. Dennis Brinkman, associate dean of the School of Physical & Applied Sciences, the greatest need the new complex would fulfill is lab space.
“We’ve got [to] provide more research space because we know and our students know that’s where the best quality learning goes on, is in the research lab,” Brinkman said.
According to Dr. Todd Voss, executive vice president, additional space for the sciences would produce numerous benefits for students at IWU, including “greater opportunity for more varied areas of study, more up-to-date labs, more opportunity for undergraduate research and greater access to equipment and independent study.”
While it is still in the “programming phase” of approval by the board of trustees, many, including Brinkman, have high hopes for the building.
“We’re hoping that our academic complex, when it’s finished, will mirror, kind of, the feel in the Student Center there, that it will be kind of a center for academics in the same way that the Student Center is the center for student life,” Brinkman said.
Those on the Building Committee from IWU are working with architectural firm SmithGroup, out of Michigan, on the new facility.
“We looked specifically for architects that had background and experience in science and or health facilities,” Roorbach said.
Chosen specifically for its experience, SmithGroup was willing to work on the fairly short timetable of 30 months in order to complete the building.
“They said they were impressed with IWU and with the ‘can-do’ attitude of the people here and that they would be afraid to fast-track this project with a lot of other schools, but they didn’t really have any concern that we could meet our targets and do what needs to be done,” Roorbach said.
According to Brinkman, the attitude at IWU is one of the things that makes it unique.
“Indiana Wesleyan University has this ability to see a goal, see an objective, understand whether or not it fits within their mission statement … and because of that, incredible things happen and we see it all over campus,” Brinkman said.
If approved, the next steps for the building would include creating preliminary drawings, then beginning site preparation.
Further decisions, including determining a contractor for the project, will be made at the board of trustees meeting April 1.