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UNF welcomes $5 million expansion of College of Education and Human Services building

UNF went through many changes in the past few years, including the opening of the Student Union. It is time for yet another addition to the campus.

The new expansion of the College of Education and Human Services will soon house the Disability Resource Center, Military and Veterans Resource Center, On Campus Transition Program and the Institute for Values, Community and Leadership.

“This is a great accomplishment,” said UNF President John Delaney at the building’s groundbreaking meeting Jan. 14. “We’ve added more square footage in the last seven years than any other university.”

The addition will take a year to completeand will be constructed on the southwest corner of the College of Education and Human Services Building. Costing approximately $5.6 million, the upgrade promises beneficial rewards.

Vice President of Administration and Finance Shari Shuman said this project has been under discussion for several years and that the state PECO funding was able to provide $5 million for the building.

Sen. John Thrasher’s leadership secured the funding from the state, and approximately $750,000 came from generous donations and scholarships supporting the project, Delaney said.

Last January, the university received nearly $218,000 from the Florida BrAIve Fund at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville.

The Disability Resource Center, currently housed in Building 10, will be on the first floor, spanning 8,234 gross square feet. It will include a new state-of-the-art assistive technology lab that enables students with disabilities to access computer systems, information resources and on-line services. There will also be a new library, testing facilities and staff offices.

“I don’t know what would’ve happened if I didn’t get assistance from the DRC,” Jessica Hawk, a history major, UNF alumna and DRC aid receiver said. “With the new building, parking will be closer, leading to easier access for the disabled, and there will be a lot more testing rooms.”

The second floor of the structure will house the On Campus Transition Program, Military and Veterans Resource Center and the Institute for Values, Community and Leadership in 7,757 gross square feet. The space will include new administrative offices, counseling rooms, a small reference library and group activity rooms.

Judith Jerome, program coordinator for the Military and Veterans Resource Center, is excited for the growth the upgrade will bring. She believes the program will now be able to enroll more than the approximately 890 active duty, veteran and ROTC students already part of MVRC.

Mark Middlebrook, a UNF history junior and war veteran, said the upgrade will help assist more veterans transition from a war zone to college. Middlebrook said getting used to campus life after being on the warfield involves psychological, emotional and mental transitioning.

The new building will provide an array of counselors, giving veterans proper assistance and attention.

“Being around other veterans helps,” he said. “It’s a place for us to socialize and just do what we do.”

The expansion of the building will bring about an expansion of services, Director of the On Campus Transition Program

Crystal Makowski said. OCT students, of which 25 are currently enrolled, have intellectual disabilities. The program helps these students audit their courses, fit in with campus life and learn how to become independent.

Delaney also announced an upcoming project for the construction of a “green building.” The environment-friendly building would use recycled materials, energy-saving equipment and natural lighting. This project is said to be completed by January 2012.

“We recognize we’re growing, but we also respect nature,” Delaney said. “UNF is now a model for other universities.”

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