From left are Eddie Beauchamp, vice president for Georgia Gwinnett College Facilities and Operations; Don Balfour, Georgia State Senator; Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia; Ron Garrard, president of Garrard Construction; Daniel J. Kaufman, president of GGC; Tom Mundie, dean of the GGC School of Science and Technology and Seijin Tranberg, president of the GGC Student Government Association.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Officials with the University System of Georgia as well as legislators and students gathered Tuesday morning to mark a milestone in the history of Georgia Gwinnett College.
College President Daniel Kaufman said nearly 900 biology majors at the school now have a new, state-of-the-art facility to hone their academic skills.
They're not the only ones.
Every student at the college must take a laboratory science as part of the general education curriculum.
When the doors open in two weeks with more than 8,000 students, young people will be able to use the new 24,000-square-foot instructional laboratory facility.
Funded by the University System of Georgia, the $7 million structure features modern, multi-disciplinary laboratories and an instrumentation core.
Chancellor Hank Huckaby with the University System of Georgia Board of Regents said expanding the college is a worthwhile endeavor.
"I've been blown away by what's going on here ... this is truly a jewel among jewels in the university system," Huckaby said. "What's being done here is unique."
Kaufman said the building is instrumental in the school's journey.
Said Kaufman: "I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important this facility is for the college. Our existing laboratory space was a limiting factor on our enrollment growth and further development as an institution. Last year, we hit that limit."
Sen. Don Balfour, chairman of the senate rules committee, said the growth the school has seen is "phenomenal."
He referenced the school's high retention rate.
"You have a retention rate at an access system that parallels the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech," he said.
Added Balfour: "We can build great buildings ... but the students don't stay just because it looks good. The teachers here have done an unbelievable job."
Tom Mundie, school of science and technology dean, thanked the group of more than 100 for attending the ceremony.
The need for the new building, Mundie said, "is without question.
"Our continued growth depends on this facility. The labs we have in the A Building will only support about 5,700 students, which is what we had last year, and we'll have 8,000 in two weeks."
Added Mundie: "This building is already scheduled at 80-percent capacity, so the need was definitely there."
The college is requesting approval for a new chemistry major, which could place more upper-level laboratory courses in higher demand as well.