MTSU Breaks Ground on $39.6M Behavioral and Health Sciences Building


MTSU officials and other dignitaries broke ground Tuesday, Sept. 18, for construction of a new building to house three disciplines in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.

The $39.6 million, 91,000-square-foot edifice will house the departments of criminal justice, psychology and social work, including faculty offices, classrooms and laboratory space. It will be located in an area north of the Student Union Commons on what is now partly grass and partly a parking lot. Completion is projected for the summer/fall of 2020.

“We strategically selected this location to create a neighborhood for Behavioral and Health Sciences students, faculty and staff that is advantageously positioned within a 10-minute walk of other learning and research facilities,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “Its state-of-the-art design will enhance our campus quadrangles and enrich our learning landscape.”

Some labs will be dedicated to the collection of questionnaire responses and other data. Others will be used for teaching data collection to both undergraduates and graduates.

Neuroscience programs for the study of electroencephalography, which is the recording of electrical activity in the brain, and eye tracking, which measures eye positions and eye movement, will benefit from the new lab space.

“Student-faculty undergraduate research will grow astronomically,” said Harold “Terry” Whiteside, dean of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. “Graduate research and faculty research will also be enhanced.”

Another feature of the new building will be a command center in which students from all three disciplines will be trained to interact with different types of emergency management personnel.

“We’re going to bring in experts to show our students … (how) to run simulation scenarios involving various disasters,” said Lance Selva, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice.

“And, when you’re talking about disasters, you’re not just talking about terrorism. You’re talking about what’s happening over in North Carolina right now,” said Selva in a reference to the horrific impact of Hurricane Florence.

Previously ranked first on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s priority list, the building was among $94.8 million in capital outlay projects for universities recommended by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in the 2018-19 budget.

Of the total cost, $35.1 million is provided by state government and $4.5 million was provided by the university. The Nashville-based architectural firm of Bauer Askew designed the three-story building. New York-based Turner Construction, with offices in Nashville, is the general contractor.

Recently elected Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, a former state senator and an MTSU alumnus, praised campus planners, architects and contractors for their preparatory work on the new facility.

“This new academic classroom building will allow the university to do even more to enhance Middle Tennessee’s regional economy, our well-being and quality of life,” Ketron said. “I am proud of my alma mater and its continued ascent among America’s best universities.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Stephen Smith also gave brief remarks and was joined at the ceremony by several board members. Also attending the ceremony was state Reps. Tim Rudd and Dawn White and Murfreesboro City Councilman Eddie Smotherman.

For more information, contact the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences at 615-898-2900.