TOWSON, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent $4.5 billion capital budget approval includes $314 million for new or continuing construction projects at universities in the state. One of the largest funding allocations, $162.8 million, will help support construction of the new Fisher College of Science and Mathematics building at Towson University in Towson.
If fully approved by the legislature, planning and building would begin in fiscal year 2017, and funding for construction would continue through fiscal year 2020. For the last two years, state lawmakers have deferred funding for the 316,000-square-foot building, according to the Towson University news outlet.
"We’re extremely excited that the governor is willing to make a significant investment in the education of the next generation of Maryland’s STEM professionals," said Fisher College of Science and Mathematics Dean David Vanko in the Towson University news outlet. "Towson’s new science building is designed for 21st century learners. It integrates technology, promotes collaboration, enables authentic research experiences for both undergraduate and master’s students, and will attract and retain high-quality faculty dedicated to serving students."
The new Fisher College of Science and Mathematics building will replace Smith Hall, where most of the university’s science and math classes are taught. Built in the mid-1960s, Smith Hall has begun to deteriorate beyond reasonable repair. Enrollment in the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics has more than doubled in the last 20 years, the university reported, so a new building will help meet the needs of the growing student population. It will also feature more open classrooms and will allow for more project-based workshops and activities, reported Baltimore Business Journal.
The Fisher College building is one of two badly needed capital funding projects. The school has also seen enrollment double for its College of Health Professions, but the governor’s proposed budget plan would not address funding for a new building for that college until fiscal year 2020. The college’s classes are currently held in seven buildings spread throughout the Towson campus, according to the Towson University news outlet. Despite the state budget proposal, Towson has already planned for both buildings in its newest master plan.
Gov. Hogan also proposed $108 million in addition to the $196 million the state has already given to construct the 428,000-square-foot health sciences research facility at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, according to Baltimore Business Journal. Construction on the project broke ground in 2013 and will be funded through fiscal year 2018.
Other higher education projects that will be funded by the governor’s capital budget plan include $168 million to continue construction of the new 184,000-square-foot bioengineering building at the University of Maryland, College Park; $129 million to start design and construction of a new interdisciplinary life sciences building at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and $38 million to start design and construction of a new school of pharmacy and allied health professions building at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.
Before the governor’s budget is made final, it still must be voted on by the state legislature.