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Building opens today

After years of planning and months of building, USF President Judy Genshaft will officially open the new $9.1 million College of Engineering building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony today.The building will be home to four departments and offer 64 new offices to the engineering department.

Alicia Slater-Haase, assistant director for advancement, said the new facility will provide students and faculty with a vast improvement in learning.

“It will allow us to have state-of-the-art classrooms to expand our facility and to provide better (learning environments),” she said.Slater-Haase said the building was completed at the end of last year, both on budget and on schedule. She said while the official opening will take place tomorrow, classes will not be held in the building until at least the summer semester.

“We’re going to wait until the end of this semester (to move in) not to disrupt class,” she said.

The new structure will become the third engineering building and fourth in the College of Engineering complex. In addition to the buildings previously standing, engineering classes and administration have been housed in several portable classrooms.

Despite the new building, Slater-Haase said students can expect to have classes in the portable buildings for an indefinite period.

“When we occupy the new building we will be vacating the Kopp (Engineering Building) immediately to do renovations,” she said. “(The renovations) will take 18 months.”

Slater-Haase said the new building boasts increased classroom and laboratory space but will not have a lot of new equipment. She said the faculty are excited to be moving into the new building, from offices that are upward of 30 years old.

“There will be some new equipment, but mostly it will be the facilities that are new,” she said. “(The faculty) are pleased to be getting offices with windows and labs with space.”

Slater-Haase said funding for the building came from both the state and private sources. Because of the need for state funding, she said the building has been on request for some time.

“It was first put on the books in the mid ’80s,” she said. “We had to work our way to the top of the list.”

Slater-Haase said the building would not have been completed without the help of private donors. Chief among these was Tampa Electric, which contributed $1 million to the project.

“Receiving the gift from TECO, as well as the College of Engineering Advisory Board, was instrumental,” she said.Tampa Electric president John Ramil, who is also a member of the USF Board of Trustees, will be present at today’s ceremony, which is scheduled to occur on the east side of the new building at 9 a.m. Tours will be given after the ceremony.