Ole Miss to Construct New STEM Facility, Debuts Arena

OXFORD, Miss. — Construction on a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building for the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford is scheduled to begin this spring.

The 200,000-square-foot, $135 million science facility will add to the university’s Science District. The project follows the completion of the Thad Cochran Research Center Wing, which added more than 96,000 square feet of research space for the School of Pharmacy, and a 36,000-square-foot expansion of Coulter Hall.

“Our vision is that this will be one of the country’s leading, student-centered learning environments for STEM education,” said Maurice Eftink, the university’s associate provost, in a statement. “It will offer state-of-the-art labs and classrooms, including what are called ‘technology-enhanced active learning’ labs. This will be a place where our students will be able to enter in the morning to take classes, meet up with other students for study sessions and lunch, participate in afternoon lab classes, work on research projects and engage with the building to learn about STEM fields in casual, informal ways.”

The additional space and technical enhancements will benefit the university’s growing student body. In fact, The Chronicle of Higher Education listed Ole Miss as the nation’s 13th fastest growing university, with more than 23,000 students enrolled across all campuses in 2014.

“The new STEM building will be a real game changer for the university,” Eftink added in a statement. “We all hear about the need to increase graduates in STEM fields, to support growth in the regional economy and to support the pipeline for training health professionals, engineers, and science and math teachers. We have reached a stage where we are almost maxed out in our ability to provide STEM courses, especially lab courses, for students wishing to major in these areas. This building will meet a very critical need to assure that students can pursue their goals of majoring in STEM fields.”

In September, the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation expanded a $20 million donation in support of the university’s new science building to $25 million, bringing the Ford Foundation’s donations to the university to more than $53.5 million. It already contributed $25 million to the 88,000-square-foot Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2002. If all goes according to plan, the new STEM facility will open in fall 2018.

This is just one of many construction projects enhancing the Ole Miss campus. This month, the university debuted the $96.5 million Pavilion at Ole Miss, a multipurpose arena, which will mainly serve the school’s basketball team. The new arena features seating for 9,500 fans, a student concourse, courtside seating, more than 1,700 premium seats and other amenities such as concessions. Construction took about 18 months, and the school’s first game in the facility was played on Jan. 6.