Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland plans a major expansion on its campus, totalling about $8 million.
“It will be the largest expansion we’ve ever had,” said David Armstrong, vice president of administrative services at the small, private Baptist college.
The board of trustees last week approved three building projects on the college’s 246-acre campus. The college hopes to make additions to the Miller classroom building, the dining hall and to construct a brand-new residence hall.
The seeds for expansion were planted two months ago, when school officials examined enrollment figures, Armstrong said.
“Next year, we expect a 45 percent increase in our head count,” he said. “We’re out of classroom space, dining room space and housing.”
Armstrong said the college’s mission to offer a biblically centered education plus its conversion to a four-year school from a two-year school contributed to the growth.
Starting early next year, the Miller building will be expanded into a three-story building. The Creation Research Center, which is dedicated to scientific evidence for the creationist position, and the World Mission Center will be housed on the first floor. The building also will contain six classrooms, a 106-seat auditorium, a student lounge and two laboratories.
The labs, for microbiology and physics, are required for the college’s plan to offer a bachelor’s degrees in biology, Armstrong said.
In the school’s dining hall, the seating capacity will double to 450 from 220. The college also will add a 210-seat banquet hall to allow the community to host events on campus.
“Right now, they’re using the dining hall where the students are,” Armstrong said. “We can’t really have events during lunch and evening times.”
Space is also becoming cramped in the residence halls, where only 20 beds were left open this semester, Armstrong said.
The new dormitory will be constructed in a suite model and include 173 beds. Instead of one community bathroom per floor, as current dorms have, a bathroom will be shared between every two dorm rooms.
In keeping with the school’s traditional red brick and glass aesthetic, the buildings will be designed in the Georgian architecture style.
Architectural firm Design Development will design all three projects, and Focus Design Builders was hired as the general contractor.
Armstrong said the project is still in its early stages, and officials don’t have a firm timeline yet. However, they hope to have the project completed by fall 2011.
The projects signify a major reversal for the school, he added. Three years ago, many were questioning the viability of
Truett-McConnell after the former president resigned, he said.
“There was debate if there would still be a college,” Armstrong said. At the time, enrollment totalled about 300 students.
Today, the challenge is keeping pace with growth. The campus offers 30 degree programs, and student enrollment has reached about 500.
Armstrong estimates roughly 70 percent of the project will be funded by donations and the college.
The last expansion at Truett-McConnell took place in 2000, with the addition of a $2 million student center. The original campus was built in 1956.
Plans also are under way to add a post-baccalaureate alternative certification program on campus in November, according to a news release from the college Monday. The year-long program will be aimed at people who already have a four-year degree and wish to become certified as educators. Truett-McConnell will partner with North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega to provide the program.