Auburn to add NPHC Legacy Plaza in front of new classroom building

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A plaza recognizing the legacy of the Black Greek organizations and African-American culture at Auburn University will be erected in front of the new Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex.

The Auburn University Board of Trustees on Thursday during its annual meeting supported the creation and naming of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza. The symbolic and functional space will include one marker for each of the nine Black Greek organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council and one central commemorative marker explaining the plaza’s representation and recognizing the project’s donors.

Of the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council, or NPHC, chapters, five are represented on Auburn’s campus.

Bobby Woodard, senior vice president for Student Affairs, said the plaza will celebrate the past, present and future of Black Greek organizations at Auburn.

In a 2018 letter from then-Student Government Association President Dane Block, the SGA Student Senate unanimously passed legislation in support of the NPHC’s campaign to create a legacy plaza at Auburn. He wrote that several student leaders, in conjunction with members of the Student Senate, researched and identified “the need for an on-campus space for a legacy plaza.”

“This resolution is the first step taken of many needed as we look to see through this project that pushes our campus forward in a positive light and serves for the betterment of Auburn University as a whole,” continued Block. “Through all facets of life, we encourage Auburn to continue efforts in supporting an inclusive and diverse environment, both within the boundaries of campus and beyond. SGA, on behalf of the students, believe this project will aide in this and fully support the effort moving forward.”

Under the SGA resolution, NPHC legacy plazas are on college campuses across the country, particularly at historically Black colleges and universities. The University of Mississippi is the only other SEC school with such a dedicated space.

Current SGA President Ada Ruth Huntley was an SGA senator under Block and said Thursday she was proud to be a part of writing the resolution nearly two years ago. Huntley added that this initiative, which actually started almost four years ago, will create the first physical landmark for any Black student organization on Auburn’s campus.

Trustee Elizabeth Huntley commended the students for having the forethought and drive to make the vision a reality.

“We can learn a lot from them,” said Trustee Huntley.

Student leaders, members of NPHC, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic at Auburn, as well as Greek alumni, have pledged financial support for the legacy plaza. Construction is expected to begin in 2022.

The Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex, or ACLC, is currently under construction in the large area between Parker Hall and the Dudley Commons, near Duncan Drive. The site is also the future home of a new central dining facility. Construction of the ACLC is slated to be complete in spring 2022.

Also involving construction, the board decided to initiate the project to renovate the Quad Residence Halls and start the architect selection process. Four of the Quad’s 10 residence halls were built in 1938, and six were built in 1952. The last renovations were in the 1990s.

Plans call for renovating two halls a year over the next five years, starting in summer 2021. The nearly $62 million project will be financed by Campus Housing.

In his report to the board, Auburn President Jay Gogue said two new searches are under way. One is a joint search with Alabama A&M University to find a new director for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Gary Lemme will be retiring from the post. The other search involves seeking a senior vice president for advancement.

Gogue noted that the university task force established last month to identify internal improvements to enhance minority representation and advancement has met several times, and he anticipated a report from the group will be presented at the September board meeting.

In other matters, the board decided to:

  • Convey approximately 0.85 acres of land and grant a temporary easement for 1.1 acres of land to the city of Auburn to conduct an improvement project along South College Street between Thach Avenue and Garden Drive. The project will improve safety and traffic flow, benefitting both the university and general public.

  • Establish a new Bachelor of Science in genetics in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Only the University of Alabama at Birmingham has a comparable undergraduate program in Alabama. The new degree will be forwarded to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education for review and approval.

  • Establish a new Master of Development Practice in the College of Human Sciences. The new graduate degree will be the first-of-its-kind in Alabama. The new degree will be forwarded to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education for review and approval.

  • Close the Master of Turfgrass Management in the College of Agriculture. No students are currently enrolled in the program. The decision will be submitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges for its approval.

  • Accept PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct the university’s audit for fiscal year 2020.

  • Posthumously award a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Auburn University at Montgomery to Sarah E. Mills, who died on April 24. Carl A. Stockton, chancellor of AUM, said that an endowed scholarship has been established in her name.

  • Elect Trustee Wayne Smith to serve as president pro tempore and Trustee Bob Dumas to serve as vice president pro tempore of the board for 2020-21. This will be Smith’s second term as president pro tempore.

  • Appoint Trustees Lloyd Austin, Raymond Harbert, Sarah Newton and B.T. Roberts to serve as a working group with President Pro Tempore Wayne Smith in order to assist the board with the annual presidential assessment.

  • Appoint Trustees James Pratt and Clark Sahlie to the Trustee Selection Committee. Trustees with expiring terms are Jimmy Sanford in District 4, Mike DeMaioribus in District 8 and Wayne Smith in an at-large seat. Trustee Charles McCrary, who chairs the board’s Executive Committee, said the appointments will last for a year or until the seats are filled.

The board also learned about the following academic updates:

New academic options: Sports production, Bachelor of Arts in journalism, School of Communication and Journalism, College of Liberal Arts; professional forester, Master of Natural Resources, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; non-thesis Master of Science in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, College of Agriculture; convert Master of Communication Disorder to non-thesis option in the Master of Science in speech, language and hearing sciences, Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, College of Liberal Arts.

New graduate certificates: Geotechnical engineering, pavement materials, pavement analysis and design, water environmental modeling, water resources engineering, structural analysis in structural engineering and structural design in structural engineering, all in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; bioproducts and bioprocessing, ecosystems engineering and rural studies, all in the College of Agriculture; and vocational forensic rehabilitation, College of Education.

Program and unit renamings: Department of Human Development and Family Studies to the Department of Human Development and Family Science, College of Human Sciences; Department of Civil Engineering to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; and Master of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling to the Master of Education in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, College of Education.

Closure of options and certificates: Option in software, Bachelor of Wireless Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; option in early childhood education, Bachelor of Science in human development and family studies, College of Human Sciences; thesis option, Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling and Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling, College of Education; graduate certificate in rehabilitation leadership and management, College of Education; graduate certificate in archival studies, College of Liberal Arts.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.