Prompts $6 Million
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Tusculum College officially broke ground on two new residence halls on Saturday before more than 100 students, faculty, staff and members of the local community.
Representatives from the college, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the community participated in the formal ceremony, which was accompanied by the sounds of construction work already under way.
Tusculum President Dr. Nancy B. Moody announced that the college intends to see the residence hall projects ready for student occupancy in August of this year.
OVERFLOW OF STUDENTS
Dr. Moody laughingly noted the "creative" ways that the college has housed an overflow of students in recent years that has at times included more than 100 percent occupancy.
"We are celebrating the continued growth of Tusculum College. We are celebrating our vibrant, diverse student population, and we are celebrating the Tusculum experience shared by students today as well as our alumni from the past 219 years," she said.
"With record on-campus living numbers, we have utilized every resource available to us, including increasing the occupancy in existing residence halls and utilizing off-campus housing.
"These new residence halls will provide additional on-campus housing to accommodate the many students who want to live on campus."
NEW BUILDINGS DETAILED
The addition of two new halls is the result of a $6 million Community Facilities direct loan from the USDA's Rural Development Office, Moody said.
The project will include two new apartment-style residence halls capable of housing a total of up to 120 students, with genders separated by floors, according to Suzanne Richey, director of College Communications.
The halls will be located on the Gilland Street side of campus near the four existing apartment-style residence halls.
"Tusculum College and Rural Development share a common goal; providing opportunities for Tennesseans to succeed," said Joe Woody, Rural Development area director.
"This partnership has allowed us to focus our efforts on expanding those opportunities across Northeast Tennessee quickly," Woody added.
ROE, MAYOR GIVE PRAISE
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, also spoke briefly, encouraging the students to take full advantage of these opportunities.
"I hope this school is here another 200 years," he said, noting that it "makes the community, the region and the country better."
In addition, City of Tusculum Mayor John Foster shared his appreciation for the college and the impact it has as a part of the local community.
"These are memories and community ties that you never forget," he said.
Those present also heard from junior Tusculum students concerning their enthusiasm for the project.
"It is very exciting to see growth on the Tusculum campus. The new residence halls are a current need. As students, we are very happy to see this project under way," said Cierra Ockstadt, a junior accounting major from Portland, Tenn.
"A healthy Tusculum College is good for the community and the region. The college serves as an economic development stimulant, increasing the sales potential for new companies considering the area and creating an educated and engaged population to continue the development of our community," Ockstadt said.
Junior Chris Weems, of Dickson, also expressed his appreciation and excitement for the project.
"This isn't just about a couple of buildings," he said. "It's about the people that have stood up to make a change."
Local architect John Fisher is the designer, and Burleson Construction is the general contractor on the project. First Tennessee Bank is providing the construction financing.
"Construction is the most visible sign of an institution in good health," said Kenneth A. Bowman, a 1970 graduate of Tusculum College and chair of the Tusculum College Board of Trustees.
"It shows we have a student population that has grown over the past several years and is currently thriving on our campus."
Tusculum is the oldest college in Tennessee and the 28th oldest in the nation.
Approximately 2,100 students are enrolled on the main campus in Greeneville and three off-site locations in East Tennessee.