A new building for the College of Science and Mathematics at Augusta University will allow it to move to the Health Sciences Campus and allow for growth of other colleges as well.
Esther Kent got her first extended experience in a research laboratory during an internship at Savannah River National Laboratory, a place where she hopes to return.
So she could only stand with envy Friday on Augusta University’s Health Sciences Campus and dream of wandering into one of the gleaming buildings around her and the labs within and find “what sparks my interest,” she said, minutes after participating in the groundbreaking for a new building for the College of Science and Mathematics.
“I think it will provide lots of opportunities for future students,” said Kent, 28, a senior in Chemistry.
The $70 million project already has bulldozers leveling red earth on its way to a ribbon-cutting in the summer of 2021, part of a plan at AU to move the college and its students from the landlocked Summerville Campus to the Health Sciences Campus and provide room for it and the remaining undergraduate programs on Summerville room to grow. More importantly, it moves those science and math students “right here in the middle of the white coats,” said AU President Brooks Keel, standing before buildings that house many of the classes for Medical College of Georgia and the Dental College of Georgia.
It was the dream of the late dean Dr. Ricky Hicks to provide proper research laboratories for the undergraduate students in science and math, said current Dean John Sutherland.
“This is an important step in our journey to become a comprehensive research university,” he said. It also allows those undergraduate students a chance to be in the midst of the health sciences and interact with those faculty, Sutherland said.
“A lot of our students arrive at Augusta University interested in careers in health care,” he said. “This will provide a great opportunity for them to be in the middle of the Health Sciences Campus and see what it’s like.”
The new building, as well as the surrounding buildings, stand on the site of the former Gilbert Manor public housing project before it was demolished and donated to the university and Provost Gretchen Caughman again thanked the city of Augusta for the land and the ability the university has to expand there.
“It is truly pivotal in the development of our Health Sciences Campus and all of Augusta University,” she said.