By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Itawamba Community College will embark on a five-year plan that will dramatically upgrade its Tupelo campus.
Included will be the construction of a new 62,000-square-foot academic building and the renovation of the technical education building.
“We believe the Tupelo campus will be where our population growth will be in the future,” ICC President Mike Eaton said in announcing the project during a faculty meeting. “…It is time we make a statement over here.”
The new academic building will be constructed along Eason Boulevard, where several existing buildings will be demolished. Those include the administration building, physical plant, faculty house and shops that have served welding and HVAC classes.
In addition to classrooms, the new building also will have a dining area, student lounge and administrative offices. The technical education building will house science classes and laboratories.
With 1,500 students, the Tupelo campus has nearly as much enrollment as the college’s original campus in Fulton, which has 1,700 students.
“Except for some of our extra-curricular activities, we want to be able to offer our students here the same opportunities and same courses,” Eaton said.
The buildings to be demolished were constructed in 1965, he said.
Construction plans on the Tupelo campus include a new physical plant to be built near the Lee County School District’s central office. That will move it away from its current location in the middle of campus, create more space and allow for more outdoor storage.
“There are several facts that necessitate the five-year plan,” said Wayne Sullivan, ICC vice president of development and planning. “The mission of the Tupelo campus over the years has changed from having primarily technical, vocational offerings to commuter, academic offerings.”
The project will cost $14.6 million, with about half of it to be financed by general funds the school will budget for the construction work. ICC also has about $7 million in the bank from past state bonds that it will devote to this project.
Meanwhile, the college also will construct a new 22,000-square-foot band hall on its Fulton campus. That $6.3 million facility will serve as a storm shelter, too.
A grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover about 60 percent of the cost, and the college will use its general funds for the remaining $2.4 million.
That will allow for more space for the college’s fine arts programs, Sullivan said. The band, music and choral programs currently are all located in the W.L. Benjamin Fine Arts complex.
The McCarty Company is the architect of the projects, which are projected to be completed in four or five years.