Special Photo Eleven shovelers break ground on Georgia Gwinnett Colleges Allied Health and Science building. From left to right: Tom Mundie, dean of the School of Science and Technology; John Heard, Gwinnett County Commissioner; Buzz Brockaway, Georgia State Representative; Bill Turpin, senior-vice president of Holder Construction; Eddie Beauchamp, vice president for Facilities and Operations; Renee Unterman, Georgia State Senator; Daniel J. Kaufman, president of GGC; Diane White, dean of the School of Health Sciences, Judy Johnson; mayor of the city of Lawrenceville; John Jefferson, GSFIC and Heather Pathak, GGC student and pre-med major.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- On Friday, officials with Georgia Gwinnett College celebrated a milestone: breaking ground on the $30 million Allied Health and Science Building. President Daniel J. Kaufman told a crowd of about 250 that the special moment "represents an important step in accommodating our students' interest in studying the sciences."
"This state of the art facility will enable us to grow to meet the educational needs of this vibrant and growing community," Kaufman said. "Any ceremony of this sort represents the culmination of an awful lot of work by an awful lot of people. This particular ceremony is representative of the extraordinary range of people ... who made this possible."
Once the building is completed, the institution can move forward with plans for growth of its school of science and technology, as well as its new school of health sciences.
"When Georgia Gwinnett was established, the college made a commitment to the Gwinnett community to provide a baccalaureate degree in nursing, as well as other allied health programs, and to serve the growing health care needs of Gwinnett, as well as the state," said Diane White, dean of the School of Health Sciences. "This building makes these proposed programs possible."
GGC recently hired Sharon Grason as its director of nursing. She is currently working to develop the proposed program, which will be based in the new building when it opens for the 2014 fall semester. The new facility cannot come soon enough, said Thomas Mundie, dean of the School of Science and Technology.
"The number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors at GGC is increasing at a greater rate than GGC's overall growth," Mundie said. "The college's enrollment grew an impressive 22 percent from the fall of 2011 to the fall of 2012, yet the number of students majoring in STEM disciplines grew by 30 percent."
Without the building, GGC's growth would have been restricted due to lack of space. Now enrolling about 9,400 students, the college's ability to continue its growth is important not only to the Gwinnett area, but to the state, Kaufman said.
"Our access mission and location in Gwinnett position GGC to absorb a significant percentage of the USG's projected system-wide increase of 100,000 additional students by the year 2020," Kaufman said. "Georgia Gwinnett will continue growing dramatically for the next several years to meet that goal and ensure that the state has the educated and skilled workforce it needs for the future."
The three-story, 91,000-square-foot structure will provide a variety of facilities for the college, including three physics laboratories, six biology laboratories, seven chemistry laboratories, four anatomy and physiology laboratories and one lab each for psychology, exercise science, IT systems and digital media.
Heather Pathak, a GGC biology major planning to go to medical school, said the "building is more than just some brick and paint. It gives you all the opportunity to be everything you want to be, everything you dream to be."