Auburn Board of Trustees changes name of three schools, one department

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The Auburn University Board of Trustees not only selected Chris Roberts to be the institution’s 21st president on its Feb. 4 meeting, but also agreed to change the names of four academic units.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, the Harrison School of Pharmacy and the School of Nursing are now colleges, while the Department of Aviation is a school within the College of Liberal Arts.

Provost Bill Hardgrave cited the need for the redesignation due to considerable enrollment growth in each unit in recent years, which has resulted in increased faculty and expanded academic, research and outreach programs.

In a memo to President Jay Gogue, Hardgrave wrote, “As a school and college, these units will continue to deliver high-quality programs and have the potential for continued growth through increased visibility and enhanced extramural funding. Redesignating these units will also enable them to recruit both faculty and prospective students at the undergraduate and graduate levels and align their nomenclature with similar programs found at peer institutions.”

James Witte, professor and chair of the Department of Aviation, said in a memo to Hardgrave that the new name not only “describes the breath and scope of the scholarly activities, diverse course offerings and disciplines and programs represented within our department,” but being a School of Aviation “accurately reflects the emphasis on aviation education and training, which serves as the cornerstone at all levels of our curriculum.”

He noted that peer institutions, such as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University and University of Oklahoma, have recently made the name change as well.

The deans of forestry and wildlife sciences, pharmacy and nursing listed numerous benefits to the name change for their units, including, “We believe this change will enhance our stature, but also that of Auburn University.”

In other matters, the board:

  • Granted final approval to renovate the Hood McPherson Building in Birmingham. The six-story, 44,000-square-foot building will provide academic and administrative space in the city for Auburn University, including a home for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction’s Urban Studio. The project cost of $21.8 million will be financed by university funds. Williams Blackstock Architects of Birmingham will serve as the project architect.

  • Authorized a project to make utility infrastructure improvements along Quad Drive. With renovations to the Quad Residence Halls and a planned student housing project along the Haley Concourse, hot and chilled water lines need to be installed. The anticipated cost of $1.5 million would be funded by the University Student Housing project. Niles Bolton Associates was previously selected as the project architect.

  • Granted final approval to construct a T-hangar at the Auburn University Regional Airport. The project will construct an additional 10-bay T-hangar in the north ramp area. The airport will lease the hangars to local and regional aircraft owners to serve as a source of revenue. The estimated project cost of $1.4 million will be financed by an Alabama Department of Transportation grant and university general funds. Garver LLC of Huntsville is the engineer for the project.

  • Agreed to lease a vacant 2.24-acre parcel at 1171 Wire Road to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries for the construction of a new livestock and poultry disease diagnostic laboratory. The department has occupied the Gilmer-Turnham Building at 1001 Wire Road since 1975 on land leased from the university.

  • Posthumously awarded a Bachelor of Science in professional flight to Joshua James Marshall, who passed away in December.

  • Posthumously awarded a Bachelor of Science in horticulture to retired Col. Dr. Mark P. McGuire. The 1976 Auburn alumnus was pursuing a second bachelor’s degree when he died last fall.

  • Set the 2022-23 board meeting dates as Sept. 16, 2022; Nov. 11, 2022; Feb. 3, 2023, at Auburn University at Montgomery; April 14, 2023; and June 9, 2023, for its annual meeting.

  • Recognized Trustees Gaines Lanier, Sarah Newton and Charles McCrary as they completed their final terms on the board. Each was presented with a resolution acknowledging their service to Auburn and declaring Lanier and McCrary as Trustee Emeritus and Newton as Trustee Emerita.

  • Learned of the establishment of a graduate certificate in data science/data engineering in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, an undergraduate certificate in translation and interpreting in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts and undergraduate/graduate certificates in manufacturing systems in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in the Ginn College of Engineering. Also, the College of Sciences and Mathematics renamed an option within its undergraduate biomedical sciences degree program from pre-physical therapy, pre-physician assistant to interdisciplinary Health Sciences.

The board also acted on the three projects for the Athletics Department:

  • Granted final approval to renovate the women’s basketball locker rooms in Auburn Arena. To bring the facilities up to competitive standards, improvements will be made to the team’s meeting areas, video review lab, team lounge, nutrition area, coaches’ locker room and restrooms. The estimated cost of $3 million will be financed by bonds, with the debt service of the bonds paid for by Athletics Department funds. Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Auburn will serve as the project architect.

  • Authorized the project initiation and architect selection process for a new practice gym in Auburn Arena. Due to the heavy use of the arena’s main court as the competition venue for men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s gymnastics and visiting team pre-game practice sessions, the space is often not available for team practices. The Athletics Department proposes constructing a second practice gym and renovating the existing team support spaces, which will allow both the men’s and women’s basketball programs to conduct practices at times that are advantageous to student-athletes and bring their facilities to Southeastern Conference competitive standards. It is anticipated that this facility would be funded by gift funds and bonds, with the debt service of the bonds paid for by Athletics Department funds.

  • Authorized the annual restoration and maintenance of Jordan-Hare Stadium. The proposed maintenance project will not exceed $3.5 million, to be financed by the Athletics Department funds.

For the Auburn University at Montgomery campus, the board authorized the purchase of the Pearson Building in Montgomery. Originally built in 1999 as an office facility for the Pearson Management Group, the property is in the Halcyon Summit Park, across the street from the AUM campus. The two-story, 9,100-square-foot building will provide space for the AUM Speech and Hearing Clinic to relocate from a leased property. The Pearson property will be acquired for no more than $970,000.

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.