UGA nails $7.7 million for vet college expansion
ATHENS, GA. — A $7.7 million infusion of funding is helping the University of Georgia (UGA) inch forward with an expansion plan for its veterinary college.
The proposed $100 million plan started with a feasibility study to determine whether the school's facilities could be expanded on-site. Building off-site, on a university-owned pasture located about a three miles from the existing campus, was deemed to be the most suitable plan, explains UGA Dean Sheila Allen, adding the expansion can't come soon enough.
"Our current teaching hospital is 30 years old, and we outgrew it a long time ago," Allen says. The current hospital measures about 50,000 square feet, while other schools in the region have about 150,000 square feet, she adds. "We're seeing more traffic than other veterinary schools in about one-third of the space. It makes for a pretty crowded, stressful learning environment for the veterinary students."Under the proposed expansion plan, about half the college will move to the next campus, which will be easily accessible via college bus lines. Class size after the expansion will increase by about 50 percent, Allen adds, increasing the veterinary college's total enrollment to about 150 students per class.
New class spaces for first- and second-year students will be increased under the plan, and the older spaces for the first two years of the veterinary program will be transformed into research spaces. The new teaching hospital will service large and small animals and include teaching and support spaces for third- and fourth-year veterinary students and faculty.
The $7.7 million bonds recently approved by the state will fund detailed architectural designs to be completed over the next year, starting in July. Construction money must then be requested from the state, Allen says. While there is no firm cost yet, the price of the expansion is estimated at around $100 million. Funding could take a year or more to secure, with the school raising about $15 million of it. About $4 million has been raised so far, and Allen says fundraising efforts should increase now that planning money has been secured.
Once construction is started, Allen says the project will take about two years to complete.