(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) Construction on the new Science Building at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is expected to begin this month or January, according to top University administrators. Less than two weeks after an official groundbreaking ceremony at SIUE to mark the construction of a new Science Building, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn released $52.5 million in funding from the state's capital construction bill. The total estimated cost for the project, which includes renovation of the existing science building, is $78.9 million.
"The contract has been awarded for the site work, a pre-construction meeting was last week and we can break ground with bulldozers this month or early January," said Kenn Neher, SIUE vice chancellor for administration. The bill, approved earlier this year, calls for a total of $168.1 million in capital funding for the SIU system, which includes the Edwardsville, Alton, Carbondale and Springfield campuses. The Edwardsville project is part of the Illinois Jobs Now bill, a statewide package signed by the governor and projected to be worth about $31 billion.
Neher said the projected move-in date on the Science Building will be around November 2011. Funds are available from the state's sale of bonds that are restricted only for the purpose of approved capital funding projects. "The University is extremely pleased," Neher said. "We have been working on this for more than 10 years and it will mean a tremendous amount for the growth of the University, the economic development of Southwestern Illinois, and the training and education of a highly qualified workforce for Southern Illinois."
According to SIUE Provost Paul Ferguson, "this timely construction of the SIUE Science Building will provide essential classrooms, laboratories and equipment to support the contemporary research of our basic sciences faculty and students, as well as to provide state-of-the-art learning environments for the many students in our rapidly growing science and health science programs. This facility will greatly further our commitment to increasing the number of health care professionals in response to significant manpower shortages and will enhance the national recognition of academic excellence at SIUE," Ferguson said.
"Overcrowding in current labs, as well as antiquated equipment, has led to faculty teaching laboratory classes seven days per week," said SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift during a Dec. 2 groundbreaking ceremony. "The lack of a new science building has been the single most important factor limiting future growth at SIUE. We can now properly address that. We are thankful for the support of the Governor, our local legislative delegation, the labor and business community, SIU President (Glenn) Poshard and all those who have enabled this day." SIUE is home to programs in dental medicine, nursing, pharmacy and the sciences.