State bonds push new nursing facility toward construction

HATTIESBURG — The Mississippi Legislature’s authorization of $20 million in state bonds will help elevate a new nursing building at the University of Southern Mississippi from the planning stage to the construction phase.

Southern Miss will receive the funding this year, which will expedite plans for the building – to be named Asbury Hall and built on the Hattiesburg campus. The official name has not yet been considered for approval by the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Board.

Tentative plans call for construction to begin in 2014.

The money is designated for construction, furnishings, equipment and related necessities for the new nursing building.

USM reports Asbury Hall will allow for an increase in nursing enrollment from the current 550 students to more than 800 and expand new programs in the College of Nursing through student interactive areas, an enlarged and enhanced clinical simulation lab, computer labs, and classrooms that will promote the acquisition of knowledge in a positive and interactive learning environment.

“The funding from the state will help support the College of Nursing’s mission of teaching, service, and research,” said Dr. Anita Boykins, assistant professor and program director of the doctor of nursing practice degree program. “Funding will not only assist in the teaching mission but also advance and improve nursing practice and clinical practice scholarship.”

Last year the university launched a private fund-raising campaign to help support construction of a new home for the College of Nursing. The USM Foundation, in partnership with the University’s College of Nursing, kicked off the $8-million campaign to build a new facility with the announcement of a $4-million gift from the Asbury Foundation of Hattiesburg that provided naming rights for the building.

Last month Joe and Kathy Sanderson of Laurel made a $1-million gift commitment to the project. To date the campaign has received $5.3 million in gifts and pledges.

Five million dollars of the $8-million campaign has been earmarked for construction with the remaining $3 million to be used for an endowment to support the long-term maintenance needs of the proposed 86,000 square foot building with a total project cost of $28 million. Asbury Hall will be located on the western edge of campus.

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