President Kim Schatzel presented Towson University’s top construction priorities to the Board of Regents this month, requesting funding approval on six key projects. Below, she gives us inside information on the projects and the impact they’ll have on TU and the state.
On why investing in TU makes sense for the State:
TU produces graduates for 36% below the average cost of USM campuses, and we’re well positioned for growth in areas of state workforce need, like STEM and health professions. Plus, our graduates stay close—nearly 80% of recent graduates live, work and pay taxes in Maryland. When you think about it, investing in Towson University is really investing in Maryland’s future workforce, and when you look at our graduation rates and costs, we offer a great return on that investment.
On the New Science Facility:
It’s crucial that we stay on track to open our New Science Facility in fall 2020. TU’s STEM programs have grown by 91% in the last 10 years alone—and our current science facility hasn’t had a significant renovation in more than 40 years. It doesn’t even have a complete fire suppression system! The new building will have appropriate lab space and infrastructure to support 21st century science instruction, and will support science education for all ages—from planetarium demonstrations to graduate research.
On the College of Health Professions Building:
As of this March, Maryland has 30,162 unfilled health professions jobs, which translates to $2 billion in missed wages and $228 million in missed tax dollars for the state. Maryland needs qualified health professionals. TU has the largest health professions enrollment in the USM, and demand outpaces the seats available. A new building will help us produce more health professionals to meet state workforce demand.
On the Visual & Communications Technology Renovation:
The world is in the middle of a communication revolution, and effective communication is one of the top skills employers look for when hiring. We need updated facilities to expand access to communication courses and relevant workplace technology. Renovating Smith Hall is the most efficient solution. The renovation will cost 30-40% less than creating a new building, and give us space for an audio recording studio, journalism lab and a television studio. Plus it has an additional 100,000 square feet of general classroom space to help alleviate our enormous space deficit.
On requests for renovating residence halls & the University Union:
Academic buildings are state funded capital requests. System funded requests are equally important, because they help provide updated space for students to live and study outside of the classroom. This year, I asked the system to fund three renovation/addition projects.
First is the Residence Tower, which hasn’t been renovated since opening 43 years ago. It sorely needs a facelift and new infrastructure and systems. We also need an addition and renovation project for our Union. The building is the heart of our campus, yet it was built for just 9,000 students—way off from the 22,284 students we have now. We need more space there consolidate student services, including the Career Center. Finally, the Glen Towers make up 40% of campus-owned student housing. They need to be renovated to update their aging systems and keep this critical part of student housing operational. With funding, I’m hopeful that we can make these projects happen within the next 8-10 years.