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The Auburn University Board of Trustees approved a number of building projects at its meeting June 5, including a plan to renovate Mary Martin Hall to accommodate a new student advising center. The plan calls for remodeling a portion of the basement to create space for advising and meeting rooms, offices and a waiting area. One of the campus’ most iconic buildings, Mary Martin currently houses Career Development Services and Student Financial Services. The new center will serve freshmen or any student requiring academic counseling. The project is estimated to cost $1.2 million and will be financed by repair and renovation funds.

Provost Timothy Boosinger received approval of a policy to offer dual enrollment for high school students. The program is a way for Auburn to access the high-achieving juniors and seniors throughout Alabama. He said the program will allow students to enroll in core classes offered through the College of Liberal Arts and College of Sciences and Mathematics, earning college credit before completing high school. As Auburn establishes its new “Finish in Four” initiative, this program will be an effective means of promoting timely degree completion.

The board approved the following projects:

- Mell Classroom project: The board previously approved a new 69,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the RBD Library on Mell Street, but now the plan includes renovating 38,000 square feet of space in the library to create 17 additional classrooms. The $25 million budget will increase by $8 million to create the new rooms and add sprinkler systems, raising the total project cost to $33 million. Construction is slated to begin in December and be completed by July 2017.

- A new residence hall at Auburn University Montgomery: The 63,000-square-foot facility will house approximately 204 students in 54 suites. The $15.5 million cost will be covered by room and board fees. Infinity Architecture is the architect with Hoar Program Management as construction manager.

- A new engineering achievement center: A portion of the $57 million gift from John and Rosemary Brown – the largest in university history – will fund this new facility to support faculty, students, staff and alumni in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

- A new performing arts center: Another portion of the Brown’s gift will fund what King called a “potentially transformative project for Auburn University.” King said the next step is determining what will go into the center, which could take a year to develop. The site won’t be selected until after an architect has been named and completed the design. It is tentatively scheduled to be located along South College Street, across the street from the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. The building will take two years to build.

- The Auburn Memorial: The Student Government Association advocated for a place to pay tribute to fallen members of the Auburn Family. It will be located within the Garden of Memory, which is across from the President’s Home on Mell Street. Holcombe Norton Partners of Birmingham will be the landscape architect.

- Expansion of campus utility systems: A utility systems engineer will be hired to ensure the university has sufficient utility capacity to support the growing campus.

- Broun Hall renovations:  Selected Chambless King Architects of Montgomery as architect.

- President’s Home renovations: Selected Christopher Architecture and Interiors of Birmingham as architect.

- Additional hangars at the Auburn University Regional Airport: To accommodate commercial or private aircrafts, $2 million will be used to construct three or four T-Hangars on the north side of the airport. The new space will be leased, providing additional revenue to the university.

The board also agreed to:

- Change the food science option for a Bachelor of Science degree in poultry science to a Bachelor of Science in food science.

- Offer a graduate certificate in instructional technology for distance education, for those interested in utilizing technology to develop and assess online courses; and a graduate certificate in technology educator, for those who desire additional expertise in using technology to support student learning.

- Merge the AUM Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education and Department of Foundations, Technology and Secondary Education under Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology.

- Close the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering, as of Aug. 15. Students currently enrolled in the degree program will be able to complete their studies, but no new students will be accepted. Faculty in the department will be reassigned to other departments.

- Name Trustee Charles McCrary as President Pro Tem of the board.

Auburn University Executive Vice President Don Large proposed including a 3 percent merit-based pool for permanent salary increases and a 2 percent pool for one-time salary supplements in the 2015-2016 operating budget for regular, continuing employees located on the main campus, the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  The proposal for the Montgomery campus includes a 1 percent merit-based pool for permanent salary increases in addition to the 2 percent pool for one-time salary supplements. Large will present the complete budget for board approval at the Sept. 25 meeting.