By Thomeya Jackson
Florida A&M University currently has five construction projects underway that are all deemed on time and either on budget or under budget. Those projects, among other things, were discussed at the FAMU Board of Trustees’ Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee meeting last week.
The university’s five current construction projects include the Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) building, FAMU Towers, a student dining hub, an energy plant and a student amphitheater.
The committee discussed how funds were being allocated for not only new construction projects, but also updating current student housing.
“I think that it’s a blessing to see our university adding new buildings to the campus. The projects are going to be great additions to the campus,” said Phyllisity Walters, a pharmacy student at FAMU.
Director of University Housing Jennifer Wilder talked about how students would soon be able to sign up for the new resident hall for the upcoming semester although the waiting list for FAMU Towers is already available. The facility is scheduled to be completed on time and has a budget of $59 million.
“We had added the 700-bed building to our contract. There is an option for them [students] to sign up for the waiting list,” said Wilder.
FAMU Towers will be open in August for the fall 2020 semester, and will primarily accommodate upperclassmen. The complex will include a dining facility and will replace beds for current student residents as student residence halls Paddyfote and Palmetto North will no longer be available upon the opening of FAMU Towers.
“The new 700-bed residence hall is an incredible addition to the FAMU Housing, especially because it’s including upperclassmen. Tallahassee off-campus student housing is not as vast in occupancy with the increasing number of students coming to Tallahassee and staying because of graduate school. It’s going to be great to have something here on FAMU’s campus to offer to upperclassmen,” said Walters.
The CASS building has been a trending topic for students and faculty on campus. The building has been progressing forward with construction and will house the Student Financial Services, the Cashier’s Office, the Registrar and the Undergraduate Student Success Center, Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid, Enrollment and New Student Orientation.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Alan Robertson spoke about the projects and gave a detailed report on each one. Robertson also spoke about how the university plans to tackle student write-offs.
“We have approximately 704 accounts that we’re writing off with an average balance of about $3,150. One of the things we are looking at now is seeing why we have such large write-offs. We don’t have a payment plan so we’re planning to put a payment plan in place. So with a payment plan, it gives the families the discipline of paying over time,” said Robertson.
Two projects that are near completion include the university’s energy plant and the student amphitheater. The central energy plant will be functional by the end of the month. Finishing touches will include a gate securing the perimeter. The student amphitheater will be complete after the canopy is installed as well as lighting and a sound system.
“The amphitheater is 98% complete. We have a canopy that was paid for by a donor, who donated $700,000. So that’s being designed and will be the next phase of the project,” said Robertson.